Healthcare cost transparency

    People in South Jersey who have Aetna health insurance can get a peek into what their doctors are being paid. The insurer hopes it can help tamp down healthcare costs. (Photo: borman818/flickr)

    People in South Jersey who have Aetna health insurance can get a peek into what their doctors are being paid. The insurer hopes it can help tamp down healthcare costs. From WHYY’s health and science desk, Kerry Grens reports. (Photo: borman818/flickr)

    Aetna recently expanded its price transparency program to South Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania. In the past, people could only view the charge for care — which is what a doctor bills, but doesn’t necessarily earn. Aetna hopes the program will get patients to consider the price tag when making healthcare decisions. Don Liss is Aetna’s regional medical director.

    Liss: What we want it to be used as is truly providing more information to patients so they can know that ahead of receiving services and include considerations about the cost of care in their healthcare making decisions.

    Medicare and other insurers are also publishing cost information in the hopes of tamping down healthcare costs. But some people are skeptical. Michael Kornett the CEO of the Medical Society of New Jersey.

    Kornett: People are more concerned about quality than they are about pricing…There’s always been a patient-physician relationship, and as long as people have coverage they tend to go to the physicians of choice. I think looking up fees doesn’t really drive people.

    Also, he says, price is more important to people who are paying for their own healthcare. Both Aetna and Medicare are distributing more information about doctor performance.

    Listen to the radio report:

    [audio:sci20090318hccosts.mp3]

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