KIRKLAND, Wash., Jan. 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- In an era when consumers and health advocates are decrying the seemingly arbitrary pricing of health care, a Seattle-area hospital is setting the standard in transparency, well ahead of many of its larger competitors.
EvergreenHealth, a Kirkland, Wash.-based health system, launched a service in 2014 that gives patients the ability to receive detailed and itemized estimates –often the same day – for out-of-pocket expenses. These include many of the most common procedures, customized to reflect insurance coverages, deductibles and other economic variables, which has already won praise from consumers and providers alike.
"Just in the few months that we've been offering this service to our patients, we've been pleased by both the volume of inquiries by our patients, and by the positive impact it has on their care," said Bob Malte, EvergreenHealth CEO. "We've had patients tell us that amid the tumult associated with any medical procedure, having clarity around cost relieves them of the stress that many patients experience."
The initiative, which includes the cost-estimator staff service and "Understanding Your Healthcare Costs" web page, is available to patients who have scheduled procedures at EvergreenHealth and those who are simply seeking more information about the cost of care.
According to Malte, not only does the service allow patients peace of mind around predictability of costs, it also empowers them to be more engaged consumers regarding health care costs.
Malte said that because of services like EvergreenHealth's cost-estimating program, consumers can now competitively price some procedures. "When we couple the volumes of data around quality with economic data, patients can now make a more informed decision on where to go for care."
In a recent example shared by a patient, she was able to save more than $300 in out-of-pocket expenses by comparing two like hospitals for a routine procedure, in the end choosing EvergreenHealth.
While a growing number of health systems make their list prices and Medicare reimbursements available to consumers, those often have little connection to actual costs to the consumer, failing to account for the patient's health plan deductible and other cost factors. Of those asking for estimates, 90 percent receive them on the same day.
Patients can obtain the detailed, customized quote by visiting the hospital's website (www.evergreenhealth.com/estimate) or by calling 425-899-3632. In addition to providing out-of-pocket cost estimates, EvergreenHealth's financial counselors can help patients understand out-of-pocket costs and provide guidance for obtaining insurance coverage.
"Every physician at EvergreenHealth is absolutely committed to providing our patients with the highest standard of care possible, but simultaneously our organization's administration has a parallel responsibility to provide for our patient's financial well-being, and this is one example," said EvergreenHealth CEO Bob Malte.
EvergreenHealth, a public hospital district and community-based health care organization established in 1972, offers a breadth of services and programs that is among the most comprehensive in the region. More than 950 physicians provide clinical excellence within more than 80 specialties, including cardiac, oncology, surgical care, orthopedics, a neuroscience institute, women's and children's services, hospice care, pulmonary care, a sleep disorders center and home care services. EvergreenHealth serves more than 400,000 residents in its primary service area of northern King and southern Snohomish counties with EvergreenHealth Primary Care, a network of primary and urgent care practices, and its main hospital campus in Kirkland, Wash. EvergreenHealth also provides emergency care at two sites: its main hospital campus and the EvergreenHealth Redmond Medical Center. In addition to clinical care, EvergreenHealth offers extensive community health outreach and education programs, anchored by EvergreenHealth Nurse Navigator & Healthline, a 24/7 nurse consultation service. For more information, visit www.evergreenhealth.com.
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