Do you have a story about a medical bill that was higher than you expected it to be? Or a time when you wanted to know how much a medical test or treatment might cost and couldn’t find out?
The new non-profit group Costs of Care is trying to lower the cost of care by using technology to show prices to providers at their decision points. They hope to pilot this approach at a Boston emergency room. They are also creating a database on the out-of-pocket costs underinsured patients face in the emergency room. The cost information will be matched with data on the comparative efficacy and risks of each test and treatment.
They are sponsoring an essay contest to draw attention to the issue. Two winners – a clinician and a non-clinician – each get a $1000 prize for best anecdote illustrating the importance of cost awareness in health care.
The high-profile judges include Michael Dukakis, Michael Leavitt, Atul Gawande, Tim Johnson, and Jeffrey Flier. The project is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrim, Tufts Health Plan, and Beth Israel Deaconess hospital.