Minnesota unveils new web tool to allow payor cost comparisons

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) this week unveiled a new Web tool that allows residents to compare the average amounts that insurers pay 110 providers for 103 common medical procedures.

According to the Governor's news release, Minnesota Community Measurement intends to add prices for more services to the website on an ongoing basis, and provider price changes will be tracked over time. The site will be particularly useful for Minnesotans with consumer-directed health savings accounts (HSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and cash payers.  Providers will be motivated to compare themselves to others and may make changes in their own clinics to stay competitive.

MN Community Measurement developed the tool as an expansion of its site— http://mnhealthscores.org —on quality measurements for health care providers; the tool was developed in conjunction with providers, health plans, and the Minnesota Smart Buy Alliance, which advocates for increased consumer participation in health care quality and transparency initiatives.

This site can also be accessed through www.MinnesotaHealthInfo.com, a clearinghouse for an expanding wealth of health care consumer information.  The Smart Buy Alliance (http://www.smartbuyalliance.com) is a public/private coalition, including state government, that uses its combined purchasing influence of more than 60 percent of Minnesota’s population to drive improvement in the health care delivery system through market-based principles.

(SOURCES: Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, Ausust 28, 2009)