NEW YORK, Dec. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- FAIR Health's consumer website marked another year as the preeminent site for consumers to access accurate, actionable healthcare cost estimates and health insurance information. In a time of flux in healthcare policy at the federal and state levels, the site continues to serve as a lighthouse to consumers at sea among high-deductible health plans, narrow networks and other potentially confusing aspects of the healthcare marketplace. To that end, FAIR Health offers five tips for consumers below.
The past year has been one of honors for the consumer site, which FAIR Health, a national, independent, nonprofit organization, maintains as part of its mission to bring transparency to healthcare costs and health insurance information. In 2016, the site earned a place on Kiplinger's Personal Finance Best List as the "Best health care cost estimator." The site's mobile app version won a 2016 Gold award for Best Mobile Communications from the eHealthcare Leadership Awards—the fifth consecutive year that those awards honored the site or the app. FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd received a 2016 Dig|Benefits Technology Innovator Award sponsored by Employee Benefit News, citing her role in launching and directing the site and the app.
FAIR Health's consumer offerings also garnered attention in 2016 from high-profile media outlets, such as Forbes, which recommended using FAIR Health's FH® Consumer Cost Lookup tool in one of its tips for saving on healthcare costs, and Trend Hunter, which lauded FH Cost Lookup CT, the Connecticut version of the FAIR Health app.
This year's crop of awards join the honors previously received by FAIR Health for its consumer offerings, including recognition from the White House, AHRQ, URAC and AppPicker.
Beyond awards, FAIR Health's consumer site has been recognized by the health plans that have private-labeled it to inform and educate their own members. New York State recognizes the site as an official tool to support transparency on the NY State of Health exchange. Across the country, state statutes, regulations and memoranda make reference to the FAIR Health data that power the consumer site.
Behind the Recognition
A number of factors contribute to the effectiveness of FAIR Health's consumer site:
- It has the only healthcare cost estimator tool that is provided by an independent, unaffiliated nonprofit organization.
- The quantity and quality of the data that power the tool are unparalleled: a continually updated database of over 21 billion claims for privately billed medical and dental procedures from over 60 contributors—the nation's largest private healthcare claims data repository.
- The cost estimator tool is accompanied by plain-language educational resources to help guide the consumer through the mysteries of health insurance—including articles, videos and glossaries.
- FAIR Health is constantly innovating. This year, it added facility charges to the FH Consumer Cost Lookup tool, allowing consumers to estimate costs for services provided in hospital outpatient facilities and ambulatory surgery centers. With funding from the New York State Health Foundation, FAIR Health plans to launch a new site for New York State in 2017 with enhanced functionality, including charges and quality details for specific providers, allowed amounts by region and information on episodes of care.
- FAIR Health's consumer site is available in both English and Spanish, as is its mobile app.
FAIR Health's accomplishments reach beyond its online services to support the entire healthcare sector with data and tools. FAIR Health is dedicated to its mission of healthcare transparency in all its work; the organization serves consumers, payors, providers, state and federal agencies, policy makers and researchers nationwide. Only this year, it published two white papers in which it analyzed data from its vast database to shed light on the opioid crisis, as well as infographics on youth concussions and oral cancer, all of which received not only national attention but media and journal recognition abroad from the United Kingdom to Russia to India and China. The first opioid white paper, for example, was covered in over 500 media outlets, including NPR, Kaiser Health News, CNN, Fox News and USA Today. FAIR Health also has been featured in such venues as the Wall Street Journal, TIME, the CBS Evening News and ABC World News Tonight. In addition, this year FAIR Health was certified by CMS as a "Qualified Entity," making it one of only four organization in the country eligible to hold and use all Medicare Parts A, B and D claims data.
Five Tips for Healthcare Consumers
As part of its educational mission, FAIR Health offers the following five tips for healthcare consumers:
- Make sure you know whether your provider is in network or out of network (Remember: Out-of-network doctors such as radiologists and anesthesiologists may be involved in your care even if your hospital is in network. Make sure to ask well in advance of your procedure whether all doctors caring for you are in network).
- If you are going out of network voluntarily, understand what formula is used to determine your out-of-pocket responsibility. For example, it may be Medicare-based or based on "usual, customary and reasonable" (UCR) charges. (Estimates for both systems can be found and compared on the FH Consumer Cost Lookup.)
- If you receive a "surprise" out-of-network bill for emergency care or otherwise, determine whether your state laws provide consumers protection for such bills and limit your required payment to the in-network amount.
- Understand that you can enter into a discussion with your providers to try to negotiate your share of the costs by comparing your providers' fees with the typical local charges for specific procedures that are offered by FH Consumer Cost Lookup.
- Familiarize yourself with the key terms and principles of health insurance so that you can be a better advocate for yourself as you navigate the healthcare system. See the FH Health Insurance 101 curriculum on the FAIR Health consumer site.
Sara Rosenbaum, a member of the FAIR Health Board of Directors who is the founding chair of the Department of Health Policy and the Harold and Jane Hirsh Professor of Health Law and Policy at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University, stated: "It has been exciting to see the FAIR Health consumer website evolve and grow and be responsive to the changing marketplace while remaining true to its independence and mission."
FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd commented: "Our entire team of clinicians, public health professionals, statisticians, communications experts and others have been gratified by the warm reception FAIR Health's consumer website has received. It shows there is a strong appetite for robust, independent data delivered in a thoughtful manner for practical use."
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About FAIR Health
FAIR Health is a national, independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing transparency to healthcare costs and health insurance information through data products, consumer resources and health systems research support. FAIR Health uses its database of billions of privately billed medical and dental claims to power an award-winning free consumer website and to create data products serving all healthcare stakeholders, including government officials, researchers, consumers, providers, insurers and other businesses. FAIR Health has been certified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) as a Qualified Entity, eligible to receive all Medicare claims data for use in nationwide transparency efforts. In addition, FAIR Health's data have been designated as the official data source for a variety of state health programs, including workers' compensation and personal injury protection (PIP) programs, as well as state consumer protection laws governing surprise out-of-network bills and emergency services. For more information, visit www.fairhealth.org.
Executive Director of Communications and Public Relations
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SOURCE FAIR Health