There is a lot of talk about transparency in the cost of healthcare. Providing cost, quality, and other information before treatment lowers costs, improves outcomes and goes hand in hand with encouraging employees to be better consumers of healthcare. However this poses a two-fold challenge:
1) having a tool available for employees to be able to make informed decisions, and
2) getting them to use it.
Providing this information in a convenient, practical manner is key.
Well, there’s an app for that. UnitedHealthcare has released an app, Health4Me, which can be used by both UHC members and non-members. This app compares expenses and outcomes for many services and procedures. It allows consumers to find healthcare providers, urgent care centers, and emergency facilities, as well as average costs for over 520 medical services. Additionally, the app provides education regarding managing healthcare costs and improving health. The app, which has been available to UHC members since 2012, can now be used by anyone with a smart phone.
Of course turning employees into better healthcare consumers requires more than transparency of cost and quality, but it is a necessary part of a strategy to engage employees in making informed decisions. Adding plan design features that give employees more skin in the game, in conjunction with cost and quality metrics, may also have an impact on medical cost and improve outcomes.
Watch for more tools like Health4Me in the future, but for now… give this one a try!