University Hospitals launches new web-based hospital price estimator tool

Sept. 28, 2020

University Hospitals (UH) announced it has launched a new hospital price estimator tool in order to help consumers make the best personal decisions about their health and finances. 

The UH Hospitals Price Estimator, powered by international credit reporting company Experian, computes each patient’s hospital personal costs after insurance coverage, when they select the hospital (or facility) where the service will be rendered and enter information from their health plan card. Price estimates are based on an individual’s health insurance benefit plan and the estimator calculates the deductible, co-insurance and co-pay amount due. 

“We are offering this tool to improve access, communication and experience for patients in an effort to make pricing more transparent and to help their decision-making in advance of service,” said Kathy LeBrew, Chief System Revenue Cycle Officer for UH. “We continue to focus on providing our patients with information in advance of care so they can make the best choices about their health care needs.  In addition to this self-service option, UH continues to offer a high-touch service through our financial counselors who are prepared to assist with estimates, payment plans, coverage and financial assistance options that best serve the patient’s needs.” 

The Price Estimator launch occurs ahead of a January 2021 requirement by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for hospitals to publish standard charges for select “shoppable services” in a consumer-friendly manner. The use of standardized data elements will make it easier for consumers to shop and compare with information obtained from other hospitals, as well as reduce surprises from unexpected bills. “To make the search experience as thorough as possible,” LeBrew explained, “we have engineered links to additional services such as online and central scheduling, customer service, financial counseling as well as frequently asked questions to provide support as needed.” 

At UH, all individuals are treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their individual financial circumstances. The Hospital Price Estimator also provides uninsured patients with costs for care. Links to UH financial counseling services, as well as UH’s financial assistance policy and application, will help provide services and support regarding options such as insurance coverage or financial assistance discounts for patients who qualify. An uninsured patient’s estimate will reflect the hospital’s total gross charges for the service requested. If patients meet established financial eligibility requirements and submit a completed application, their bill for medical care at a UH hospital facility may be discounted in part or full under the UH Financial Assistance Program. 

Actual final amounts for services may change based upon changes to coverage, care at the time of the service, treatment or services that a doctor determines a patient may require during the visit, or other information provided by the insurer. For now, the estimator will work with hospital or health center facility-based charges; costs associated with physician professional fees will be included online at a future date and, at present, can be provided through UH financial counseling services. 

“We believe consumers will find this new tool convenient and easy to use,” said LeBrew. “We know that insurance benefits and hospital billing can be confusing, and we hope this resource helps enrich the experience for patients at University Hospitals.” 

University Hospitals has the release