Hartford, Conn. - Aetna is launching an online customer service program that lets consumers find out what they can expect to pay at the doctor's office before going in for a visit. The service will allow consumers to better estimate their out-of-pocket health care expenses by having online access to the actual discounted rates for up to 25 of the most common office-based services offered by their own primary care or specialist physician. The program will initially be piloted with information for approximately 600 distinct procedures provided by 5,000 individual physicians and physician groups in Cincinnati, Dayton and Springfield, Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana.
"As an industry, we need to make it simpler and easier for consumers to access information that will support them in making well-informed health care decisions," said Ronald Williams, president of the Hartford, Conn., insurance company. "The biggest impediment to effective consumerism in health care has been the unavailability of relevant data on health care quality and cost."
As more and more Americans begin managing their health care dollars, they are increasingly interested in the "price tag" for the health care they receive, reports Aetna. Through this enhancement, Aetna members will see the actual discounted rates specific to their health plan for office visits, diagnostic tests and minor procedures. The published information will vary based upon the physician's specialty and will be expanded over time based on feedback.
The program was developed with feedback from the physician community. Focus groups were conducted with physicians and their office staffs in the Cincinnati area, and Aetna met separately with representatives from local and state physician professional organizations as well as large group practices in Ohio. Feedback gathered during this process was incorporated into the program. Aetna will solicit additional feedback from physicians, customers and members prior to rolling the program out in other markets.
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