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Hospital Pricing Transparency a Marketing Game Changer

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, May 22, 2013

"We will post our prices relative to Blue Cross and Aetna, our contractual prices, and we'll challenge Baptist and the other systems in the community to do the same,'' Sonenreich said in the radio interview.

Seven-hospital system Baptist Health South Florida CEO Brian Keeley was also in the radio studio for an interview and, while he declined to accept Sonenreich's challenge for price transparency, he acknowledged "That's where the whole industry is going, undoubtedly."

If Mount Sinai follows through on Sonenreich's promise, it will likely create a positive perception among the public when it comes to price transparency—something that will only grow in importance as healthcare reform changes the way consumers pay for insurance coverage and prices become a bigger factor in patient decisions.

"We're moving more from co-pays to co-insurance, which means that instead of paying a dollar amount for an MRI, say $100 out-of-pocket, now they're moving it toward a percentage of the price, so you might be paying 20 percent,'' Steven Ullmann, a professor of health management and policy at the University of Miami, told the Herald. "So 20 percent of a $1,000 MRI is going to be really different in terms of out-of-pocket costs versus a $3,000 MRI.''

And once the internal panic over transparent pricing course corrects, I suspect many organizations will ultimately offer the same services and procedures for a similar price.

And, when that occurs, marketers need to be sure consumers have a clear reason to choose their organization over all the other cupcakes… I mean hospitals.

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2 comments on "Hospital Pricing Transparency a Marketing Game Changer"


Donald Stumpp (5/23/2013 at 9:57 AM)
We all know there are $200 night hotel rooms and ones you can get for $50. The cost of essentially the same food varies between restaurants as consumers pay for a quality dining experience - with their own definition of what that is. ...... The healthcare consumer has been oblivious to costs and it will take some time to learn, because fortunately, we do not use the services often..... But eventually we will learn. I might pay more for my Dr visit because they are happy to see me, are on time and really help me (think Starbucks coffee), but I might not want to pay $60 for a lab test I can get for $10 elsewhere....... It may not be the patient always asking though. The employer who is essentially funding it all may be the wild card to push this over the edge.

Daniel Fell (5/22/2013 at 1:06 PM)
Good article and nice to see the coverage of healthcare pricing in general as it is once of the most frustrating and puzzling aspects of our industry. However, I believe the Holy Grail is not quality or price but rather value. Hospitals that successfully marry the two into compelling messages to health plans, physicians and patients will ultimately succeed. And many will be able to charge higher prices that they'll be able to justify. And those will low quality and high prices will cease to exist.