If you, like many others, find yourself worried about the high out-of-pocket health costs, there may be a new tool for you. Imagine searching for your procedure, based on your doctor and insurance, and eliminating surprise bills that show up months after surgery… it’s possible!
Amino, a health data company, believes everyone deserves to know how much their health care will cost. In July 2016, Amino launched tools that can help you estimate health care costs for many common procedures and services, compare costs for doctors in your region, and calculate what you might pay out-of-pocket for a specific doctor based on your insurance. Their cost estimates can help you prepare for the financial impact of medical care and help you make more confident decisions about where to get treated.
Amino’s cost estimates are estimates of the total amount that you and your health insurance company might pay for a procedure— they call this the “network rate.” You’ll see the network rate across Amino’s individual doctor profiles, as well as on the regional cost comparison maps. The network rate will vary based on whether or not you’ve specified your insurance. This new tool covers about 550,000 physicians, 49 procedures and over 125 insurance companies, including the largest insurers in the United States like UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, Humana, Cigna, Blue Cross, and Blue Shield.
I predict that my upcoming ENT visit will lead to a tonsillectomy. (blah) I went onto Amino and quickly saw that my out of pocket expenses will be roughly $4,000 — and I know this before I even go to the doctor!
The cost estimates are built around an “episode of care” — a set of related services that a patient may need as they get treated. For example, in the case of an ACL surgery, a patient may receive anesthesia, radiological services, and medical devices, as well as the procedure itself, as part of their episode of care. The costs of these related services sometimes vary from doctor to doctor (and from facility to facility) and are reflected in the cost estimates you see on Amino’s doctor profiles.
To determine the episode of care for each procedure of interest, Amino will first look at all of the services that patients experience within a specified window of time. For simple procedures (like a vaccination), the window is one day (the day the procedure was done). For more complicated procedures the window can be up to 7 days after the procedure was done in order to account for lab tests and other related services.
I think it’s a great concept, especially since it’s always nice to know what you’re getting into. But keep in mind, we all know it’s not always easy to know what the full costs are going to be, due to variances between offices, patient needs and issues that may arise. I was happy to read that Amino gives an estimate based on all the other people with the same insurance who went to the same doctor for the same procedure.
Take a look at the Amino website and compare the costs of health care in your area. You can even find a doctor that specializes in your current needs! Make sure you connect with Amino on facebook and twitter to learn more!