UConn Joins State to Deliver Transparency for Health Care Costs

Developed by Alan Fontes of the School of Nursing, the interactive website allows consumers and providers to search, sort, and filter by provider, location, health measure, network quality rating, and cost of treatment.

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The State of Connecticut today launched the Healthscore CT cost estimator, a consumer tool that allows users to compare the cost of medical care at hospitals and provider networks in the state.

Developed by Alan Fontes, director of Analytics and Information Management Solutions at the UConn School of Nursing, the interactive website allows consumers and providers to search, sort, and filter by provider, location, health measure, network quality rating, and cost of treatment.

“The cost estimator can help us improve health and healthcare delivery,” said Vicki Veltri, executive director of the Connecticut Office of Health Strategy, which manages the database. “It’s a valuable resource for policymakers who track health care cost drivers and an important tool for consumers who are seeking more transparency in health costs.”

The data also has applications for public health and research that will help the state achieve its health care goals of cost containment and improved access, said Veltri. “High cost does not necessarily mean good quality; the cost estimator is the first step towards getting more information into the hands of consumers.”

The new resource was unveiled at the statehouse, an event attended by Fontes, Veltri, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Senator Matt Lesser, co-chair, and Senator Kevin Kelly, ranking member, of the legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee.

“A lot of people have high deductibles so it may be cheaper to negotiate the cost of a procedure with a facility based on the information available on all providers,” said Fontes.

The Healthscore CT cost estimator pulls information from the state’s All-Payer Claims Database and allows users to compare the cost of specific procedures offered by medical providers throughout the state. There must be five or more claims per service for that provider to be included on the survey.

The high, median, and low estimator data reflects the payments made by insurers for particular inpatient and outpatient procedures—claims for which all Connecticut-regulated insurers and pharmacy benefit managers are required to submit to the All-Payer Claims Database. The site currently contains nearly 50 inpatient and outpatient services; new measures are added regularly.

The launch of the cost estimator follows the debut of the quality scorecard in August 2019. The scorecard, supported by a $45 million grant from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, uses national standard measures and employs a five-star system to rate healthcare organizations on 30 health measures.

“Reducing the costs of health care and improving access to quality care needs to be a top priority in our state,” said Kelly. “The launch of HealthscoreCT.com’s cost estimator tool is an important step in the process to give consumers more information they need to make the best health care decisions for themselves and their families.”

Veltri said, “Insurance plans have different deductibles and co-pays, so we urge people to use the Healthscore CT cost estimator as a starting point and speak with their insurer about any deductibles or co-pays associated with their specific health policy before undergoing treatment.”

Connecticut law requires the Office of Health Strategy to use the All-Payer Claims Database to collect, assess, and report healthcare information relating to safety, quality, cost effectiveness, and access for all levels of healthcare. Healthscore CT will be updated continually to reflect new data and will evolve to include additional cost and quality measures.