• Premera Online Tool Puts the Cost of Care Up Front

    Tool allows doctors and patients to easily consider the cost of treatment

    MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, WA – (July 22, 2009) – Premera today announced the expansion of an online tool enabling patients to get accurate, advance estimates of their medical care costs, and physicians to get paid faster.

    With Premera’s real-time estimate and claim submission tool, doctors’ offices can produce nearly-instantaneous out-of-pocket expense estimates for their patients while discussing treatment options. Doctors’ offices can also use the Web-based program to submit their claims to Premera for processing in real time, cutting paperwork and postage and shortening the period for reimbursement by days

    “This puts the price tag on the medical service up front, much like any other service consumers buy,” said Rich Maturi, Senior Vice President for Health Care Delivery Systems. “We’re excited to make this tool available to our provider network in Washington and Alaska. We know from talking to providers and members that people want more access to information about the costs of healthcare. This online cost estimator allows for immediate conversations between medical professionals and patients at the time of service. Patients know upfront what their estimated share of cost will be, while providers can submit claims and receive payment in a timelier manner.”

    Cost Estimator Responds to Provider and Patient Demand

    Providers historically have had to wait until after they receive insurance payment to finalize their patients’ bills. This often causes confusion for patients and long delays in settling accounts. Premera has found in focus groups and individual interviews that consumers want to know their personal financial responsibility for healthcare procedures at the time of service.

    “We received great feedback from the clinics who participated in a limited roll-out of this tool beginning in December,” said Maturi. “Based on that strong reception, we’re pleased to provide this service to our entire professional provider network in Washington State and Alaska.”

    Implementation of an online cost estimator for doctors’ offices dates back to early 2007, when Premera was the first health plan in the nation to deliver an out-of-pocket estimator tool to hospitals. This tool helps hospitals and patients by providing an accurate estimate of the patient’s financial responsibility. The estimator’s success prompted Premera to also deliver a tool for contracted professional providers. Today’s announcement is the fruit of that process of working with providers to offer a tool that increases transparency and efficiency in a way that benefits both providers and patients.

    About Premera Blue Cross

    Our mission is to provide peace of mind to our members about their healthcare coverage. We provide health insurance and related services to more than 1.5 million people. Premera Blue Cross has operated in Washington since 1933, and Alaska since 1957. Premera Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Premera Blue Cross is a member of a family of companies based in Mountlake Terrace, Washington, that provide health, life, vision, dental, and long-term care insurance, and other related services.