A nonprofit consumer group has launched a website to help patients nationwide get cost estimates, by Zip code, for several medical procedures, as well as estimates of what they can expect insurers to reimburse for out-of-network care.
The Consumer Cost Lookup site, www.fairhealthconsumer.org, offers cost information for a wide range of medical services, from mental health counseling to common surgeries.
By typing in a ZIP code, for example, a person can request cost information for 10 different colonoscopy procedures.
For the Pittsburgh, Pa., ZIP code 15222, the site said the removal of polyps with an endoscope would carry an estimated charge of $1,316, with an estimated insurance reimbursement of $921.
That leaves an out-of-pocket cost to the patient of $395.
The Cost Lookup site estimates a gallbladder removal procedure in that same area has an estimated charge of $2,341, a reimbursement of $1,639, with an out-of-pocket cost of $702.
Other categories provide cost estimates for heart and lung tests; imaging tests; laboratory tests; office and hospital visits; orthopedic procedures; procedures related to pregnancy, childbirth and infertility; common surgeries; and therapeutic services.
It does not give physician-specific or facility-specific estimates.
"The public can now, for the first time, easily find price data that will help them inform their health care decisions," said Fair Health President Robin Gelburd in a release.
The Manhattan, N.Y.-based Fair Health organization was founded in 2009 following a settlement between then-New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo and major health insurers.
Cuomo's office was investigating the insurers for possible conflicts of interest in calculating reimbursements to patients for out-of-network care.
As part of the settlement agreement, insurers turned over reimbursement information for millions of claims.
The organization says that cost information, plus data collected from more than 110 million medical claims throughout the United States, is the basis for the site's cost estimates.
The site also has a separate link that provides dental care cost estimates for specific locations.
(Email reporter Steve Twedt at email@example.com.)