State-run website helps patients, insurers save big on imaging exams

Patients and insurers have both saved significant money on medical imaging procedures thanks to a state-run website in New Hampshire, according to a researcher from the University of Michigan (UM) in Ann Arbor.  

Zach Brown, an assistant professor of economics at UM, found the state’s HealthCost website helped reduce the cost of x-rays, CT scans and MRI scans over a five-year period. The total savings for individuals was approximately $7.9 million in those five years, and the savings for insurance providers was approximately $36 million.

“While the price of health care procedures varies widely across medical providers, these prices are often difficult for patients to observe,” Brown said in a news release from UM. “Consequently, individuals often choose providers without comparing prices.”

The HealthCost website provides out-of-pocket pricing information for numerous medical procedures. It is available to all New Hampshire citizens with private health insurance.

“If health care is to be left to market forces, then I believe that those markets should be transparent and competitive,” Brown said in the same news release. “Reining in health care costs will require bold solutions that lift the veil on prices.”