Online calculator gives St. Clair Hospital patients cost estimates
February 22, 2016 12:15 AM
Darrell Sapp / Post-Gazette
New "Surgical Suites" at St Clair Hospital.
By Kris B. Mamula / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Figuring out how much hospital services will cost before being admitted just got a whole lot easier at St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon, where — starting today — patients have an online calculator to estimate out-of-pocket costs.
St. Clair is the first hospital in the region to introduce the cost estimator, which determines deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance costs for 105 of the most common tests and medical procedures based on the patient’s health insurance plan. Not included are physician costs, but St. Clair says it is working to add that feature.
“This is not a cost range,” said chief financial officer Richard Chesnos. “This is the actual contracted rate with the insurer.
“Patients have been asking us for it.”
Bill Hennessey, a physician and founder of the Greensburg medical charge information company Pratter Inc., called St. Clair’s cost calculator a “baby step” in pricing transparency. More needs to be done to allow consumers to compare prices among different providers in the same network, he said.
“What you’re missing is the lowest price in the network,” he said. “Network prices vary greatly.”
Consumers have long complained about the lack of transparency in medical bills. St. Clair’s new service, which is offered in collaboration with Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Experian Health, is an effort to address those concerns. Experian offers the calculator to 3,000 hospitals and 10,000 other health care institutions nationwide.
Kris B. Mamula: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1699
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