St. Clair Health’s Price Transparency Tool Removes Guesswork, Sticker Shock
Showing consumers their share of the bill has long been a priority of St. Clair Health. That’s why in 2016, working with Experian, they developed a first-in-the-nation online tool called Patient Estimates, which takes the mystery out of healthcare costs. “We want to promote a culture of value to our patients and to employers,” says Eric Luttringer, Vice President of Finance. “And value really can’t flourish without price transparency.”
Type in your insurance information. Choose a procedure. And seconds later, receive an estimate for your out-of-pocket costs—customized to your specific insurance plan, reflecting any deductibles or co-payments you’ve made year-to-date. The tool also works for those without health insurance.
A national leader in transparency and value, St. Clair actually unveiled the tool five years before the federal Hospital Transparency Act was enacted in January of 2021. This new legislation requires hospitals to list the pricing of “shoppable” services and procedures—the most common ones—on their websites in a form that consumers can read. But, as multiple media outlets have reported, most health systems, across the nation and in the region, are not in compliance with this new legislation.
St. Clair provides the patient out-of-pocket costs, (i.e. the patient’s deductible and co-payment), not just what the insurance company will pay, which is what the legislation requires. “Ultimately, what patients most want to know is, ‘What will I have to pay out of my own pocket?’ So we go the extra step to provide them a customized estimate,” says Luttringer. “And in most cases, our costs to the patient are significantly lower than that of the larger health systems.”
Offering price transparency eases the minds of patients so that they can go ahead with procedures and tests instead of putting them off for fear of a surprise bill.
“You already are anxious when you are going to the doctor,” Luttringer says. “Whenever there are more tests or a procedure that just increases the anxiety. Our desire is to reassure patients about the cost.”
To experience the value-finding tool for yourself, visit: www.stclair.org/patient-estimates .