Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Impact of Insurance on Healthcare Costs

It is well known consumers will demand more services if they don’t have to directly pay for them. It is also well known that there are large administrative costs and risk premiums included in insurance. That is why we don’t insure our cars for the periodic oil change or tire replacements. And yet, we routinely expect health insurance to cover the most trivial of services like check ups and routine care. But at what additional costs?

I would recommend reading Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. insightful argument published in the WSJ on January 21, 2009 “Can Obama Make Government Solvent”. In part he states:

“End the tax preference for employer-provided health care. Make it up to workers with an income or payroll tax cut. This one step would move the economy towards consuming health care efficiently and designing insurance policies that actually insure rather than channel the privileged class's health spending through a tax loophole.

The privileged class, exposed to meaningful price tags, would become a force for disciplining cost and quality rather than the opposite. Nothing else would so improve the country's long-term fiscal prospects or do more to lend practicality to Mr. Obama's goal of universal coverage.

Back in 1993, when minds were still fresh, economists left and right recognized that the enormous tax subsidy to third-party payership was the original sin of our health-care woes. The Senate Finance Committee devoted a full set of hearings to just this issue. But it was a fix that lacked the grandiosity of a flow chart showing how government would re-engineer health care from top to bottom. There's a lesson here: Real reform is often deceptively simple, leading naturally to changes in behavior that are more far-reaching than any detailed government prescription could hope to achieve.”

The decisions our current government makes will have a large impact on the cost, quality and availability of healthcare in the future.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Healthcare Blue Book

Welcome to my new blog on Healthcare Transparency.

This blog is being launched to coincide with our new website:

I will blog about transparency in healthcare. The focus will be on news and issues important to the healthcare industry and healthcare consumers. While pricing is important, I will also focus on quality of care transparency as well. In my experience, when providers don’t compete on prices, they generally don’t compete on quality either.

I’d like to invite all readers with an interest in healthcare price transparency, consumerism and quality measurement to check in frequently and to share your perspectives, experiences, questions and news. I would like this blog to be the bellwether of emerging price transparency issues, and a shared community resource.

I invite you to review the Healthcare Blue Book and the company’s first release: New Web Site Teaches How to Price Shop

Contacts: Dr. Jeff Rice,, 615-473-1773,
Aimee Stern, Stern Communications, 202-744-5004,

January 7, 2009, Nashville, TN. Americans can’t control the economy, but they can do a much better job of educating themselves about what they should pay for healthcare. The Healthcare Blue Book,, the first national effort to provide free pricing data to consumers launches today, and is designed to give people the information they need to pay fair prices for healthcare.

Price variations for healthcare services, even within the same market and provider network, may be thousands of dollars. So knowing what the fair price is can help consumers better manage the cost of their healthcare. is easy to use. Type in the kind of healthcare service needed plus a zip code and the Healthcare Blue Book pulls up the fair price based on fees paid by Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO) to doctors for services in that market. Consumers can then use the suggested Healthcare Blue Book price to discuss prices for services and treatments with their doctors and other healthcare providers. also offers a customized application to employers that supports implementation of consumer directed health plans (CDHP), high deductible health plans (HDHP) and health savings accounts (HSA) among other consumer benefits designs. Applications are built depending upon the types of healthcare services employees use, and what in and out of network PPO and other healthcare providers charge for these services.
Healthcare costs are expected to continue climbing throughout 2009. The National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans conducted by Mercer, reported that in 2008, PPO deductibles doubled at many companies from $500 to $1,000.

Americans do price/value comparisons for their homes, cars, vacations and the majority of goods and services they buy. “Why not healthcare?” asks Dr. Jeff Rice, founder. The former CEO of CareSteps, Rice has a long history in the healthcare industry of developing innovative products for consumers.

“Patients should not assume that a high price means good quality,” says Rice. “It is up to patients to ask about the cost of services and to learn about the quality of their providers. Doctors and hospitals that charge a fair price, often provide the best value. can help consumers figure out what they should pay.”

Consumers need better education about the healthcare services they purchase and 2009 is a good year for them to start. Using can help people learn how to obtain fair prices for their healthcare.

CareOperative LLC provides the information, tools and processes that enable fair, upfront pricing for healthcare services and products. As parent company of, it has developed a consumer friendly guide to find fair prices for healthcare services. Employers can use the Healthcare Blue Book to help their employees more effectively manage the cost of their healthcare.