NEW YORK, Sept. 6, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- FAIR Health, a leading national independent nonprofit organization that advances system-wide healthcare cost transparency through consumer resources, data products and health services research support, announced today that it has launched a free mobile app to help improve health insurance literacy, promote transparency in medical and dental costs and increase healthcare engagement among Connecticut residents.
Funded by a grant from the Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health), the FH® Cost Lookup CT mobile app becomes available at a time when changes to the Connecticut health system increasingly require consumers to make complex decisions based on costs associated with their medical and dental care. Those changes include the expansion of coverage through Access Health CT, the state's health insurance exchange; the proliferation of health plans with increased member cost-sharing requirements and narrow networks; and the overall drive toward value in healthcare.
Available in both English and Spanish, the app includes a feature that enables both insured and uninsured consumers to estimate the regionally specific costs of medical and dental procedures received in Connecticut, as well as in neighboring states (New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island). The app also provides educational articles that explain the fundamentals of health coverage, as well as healthcare issues specific to Connecticut. In addition, the app directs users to community resources for healthcare, transportation assistance and other services. These educational materials will be especially helpful for those at lower levels of health insurance literacy, including the newly insured or uninsured. Hispanic consumers will benefit, as well, by accessing these tools and resources in Spanish. The app can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store or from Google Play.
In addition to FH Cost Lookup CT's development, the grant-funded program entails efforts to disseminate the app and promote its use through collaborations with community-based organizations, community health centers and health exchange navigators. The program will also develop targeted partnerships with organizations that serve Hispanic communities.
FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd stated, "Research continues to show that most consumers lack the necessary understanding of health insurance required to make informed healthcare decisions—whether selecting a plan or managing healthcare and related costs. FAIR Health is proud to offer a free tool that will help advance health insurance literacy and empower Connecticut residents to better navigate the healthcare system."
"The Foundation is proud to support the launch of FAIR Health's mobile app," said Tiffany Donelson, Vice President of Program at CT Health. "Having access to basic health information and pricing data is absolutely critical to advancing health equity in Connecticut. Now more than ever, it is essential to equip consumers with cost and other educational health resources so that they can make better healthcare decisions. Having the information in the app available in both English and Spanish is an important step in maximizing the impact of health coverage expansion under the Affordable Care Act."
"Physicians in Connecticut are increasingly serving on the frontlines of cost-related conversations with their patients. With access to FAIR Health's free app, physicians and patients can have meaningful discussions regarding the costs of tests and treatments, thereby leading to shared and informed decision making. Eliminating the confusion around costs is indeed a win-win for physicians, patients and patients' families," said Matthew Katz, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Medical Society.
The new app is driven by healthcare prices from FAIR Health's database of over 21 billion claims for privately billed medical and dental procedures dating back to 2002. FAIR Health receives data from payors that collectively insure more than 150 million individuals in the private healthcare system. FAIR Health's consumer app, available in English (FH Cost Lookup) and Spanish (FH CCSalud); English-language website (www.fairhealthconsumer.org); and Spanish-language website (www.consumidor.fairhealth.org) also offer cost estimation services utilizing this robust database.
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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, providers, insurers and other businesses and consumers. 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.
About Robin Gelburd
FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd, JD, is a recipient of a 2016 Dig|Benefits Technology Innovator Award, bestowed by Employee Benefit News, and has been invited to speak to organizations across the country, including keynote presentations, on topics of critical importance to employers, employees, health plans, third party administrators, consultants and other stakeholders in the healthcare "ecosystem." Her presentations have taken place at forums sponsored by the American Medical Association, American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), the Alliance for Health Reform, the Institute for HealthCare Consumerism and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, among others. She also has published numerous articles on topics such as data analytics in The Self-Insurer, healthcare cost transparency and clarity in Managed Healthcare Executive, the New York State consumer protection law in Employee Benefit Adviser and consumer preferences on the Institute for HealthCare Consumerism website (www.theihcc.com).
Prior to her role at FAIR Health, Ms. Gelburd served for eight years as general counsel of a medical research foundation comprising approximately 30 premier academic medical centers, hospitals and research institutions in New York State. During her tenure at this consortium, Ms. Gelburd also was appointed chairperson of New Yorkers for the Advancement of Medical Research, a statewide coalition of over 40 organizations that she helped found in 2003 and whose mission was the promotion of state funding and support for stem cell research and regenerative medicine. Previously, Ms. Gelburd was a health law partner at the New York City law firm Kalkines, Arky, Zall & Bernstein (now Manatt, Phelps & Phillips). During her 10 years at that firm, she represented an array of healthcare-based clients—including hospitals, provider groups and organizations, payors, skilled nursing facilities, special needs plans and ambulatory care centers—on a variety of strategic, regulatory, policy, governance, business and contractual matters. Earlier, Ms. Gelburd worked as a litigation and corporate associate at the international law firm Morrison & Foerster. She began her legal career as a federal appellate law clerk to the Honorable Francis D. Murnaghan, Jr. from the Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit.
About the Connecticut Health Foundation
The Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health) is the state's largest independent health philanthropy dedicated to improving lives by changing health systems. Since it was established in 1999, the foundation has supported innovative grantmaking, public policy research, technical assistance and convening to achieve its mission—to improve the health of the people of Connecticut. Over the past 17 years, CT Health has awarded grants totaling close to $59 million in 45 cities and towns throughout the state.
In 2013, CT Health announced a five-year strategic plan that made expanding health equity the foundation's central focus. For CT Health, health equity means helping more people gain access to better care, especially people of color and underserved populations. Better care includes physical, mental and oral health.
For more information about the Foundation, please visit www.cthealth.org.
SOURCE FAIR Health