Highmark's transparency tools help consumers shop for health care

Feb 12, 2013, 09:00 ET from Highmark Inc.

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In an ongoing effort to advance its transparency solutions, Highmark continues to launch new tools to help its members make important health care decisions.

"Consumers are so used to comparing costs and quality when making life purchases such as buying cars and houses; so why not make shopping for health care just as manageable," said Steven Nelson, Highmark senior vice president of strategy, product and marketing. "By making the cost information transparent, we can help our members make confident and educated decisions when choosing things like physicians, hospitals, appropriate medical procedures and prescription medications."

Highmark's variety of tools gives members various levels of support based on their need. For example, Highmark's compare care cost tool lets members shop and compare costs on common surgeries and diagnostic procedures.

To take that support one step further, Highmark's care cost estimator calculates what portion members have to pay for provider care or procedures. The care cost estimator was recently launched as a pilot program to more than 40 Highmark group customers in 2012. Members will have full access to this capability in spring 2013.

Highmark offers nationwide ratings and reviews to its members through its patient experience review tool and physician quality measures. The patient experience review tool was created as a direct result of Highmark members requesting to see the full picture of their providers and the ability to offer personal reviews and read other members' ratings. Highmark's physician quality measures help consumers consider providers based on national quality benchmarks. Both tools give members more insight into the quality and experience measures to help make those important decisions.

"Building trust and comfort within the health care spectrum is crucial," said Mr. Nelson. "We want to ensure that members are engaged throughout the process and understand how they, too, can play a role in the quality and cost of their care."

More members are taking advantage of benefit components such as health savings accounts, which makes these transparency tools become even more important as members begin to take on more responsibility of how they access and utilize their health care.  

By providing easy-to-use quality and cost comparisons, clear and up-to-date information, member specific information and local and national data, members are exposed to an expanding suite of tools to help them make smart decisions about their health care and health care spending.

Highmark's quality information is more transparent and has even gone mobile. There are functions like side-by-side comparison tools to make things like finding the right doctor simple, along with free text searching functions. Highmark plans to continue the expansion of its transparency suite in the year ahead to provide a one-stop shop to engage members in making informed decisions about their health and managing the cost of their family's care.

About Highmark
Highmark Inc. is a national diversified health and wellness company based in Pittsburgh that serves 34.4 million people across the United States through its businesses in health insurance, dental insurance, vision care, information technology and integrated health care delivery. The company, which has more than 20,000 employees, is the ninth-largest overall U.S. health insurer and the fourth-largest Blue Cross and Blue Shield-affiliated company. Highmark operates health insurance plans in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia that serve 4.9 million members. The company also offers health and wellness products to clients with employees throughout the country and is a recognized leader in reinsurance. In addition, the company operates more than 600 optical retail stores and four U.S.-based eyewear manufacturing facilities. Highmark is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.

SOURCE Highmark Inc.