What is Philly Health Costs and how can it help me?

What is this project?
Philly Health Costs is a consumer guide aimed at helping unravel the mysteries of health-care pricing and billing so you can get a better handle on what you’ll pay for the care you need. The Inquirer and 6ABC are teaming up with ClearHealthCosts, a health-cost transparency company, to report on and collect prices of common health-care procedures with you, the members of our community.

How does it work?
We are building tools to make it easier to share prices and find prices for common procedures.

Why are you doing this?
The rising cost of health care is one of the biggest problems we face as a nation. Yet it’s often impossible for consumers to easily find out the cost of health-care tests, treatments and services.

What about quality?
Most people don’t want the cheapest appendectomy or the cheapest MRI so much as high quality at a fair price. But just as there is little transparency in health costs, there are also few good measures in quality. We’re taking this step toward price transparency in the belief that it will lead to a good discussion about quality metrics.

How can I contribute?
Help us build a broad database of health prices. Find your medical bill or insurance explanation of benefits” and share it on philly.com/healthcosts. You can also call us at 215-854-2500 or email us at healthcosts@philly.com.

How can I find prices?
Find Prices” table on philly.com/healthcosts, start typing your procedure name and choose from the automated menu. We’re starting out with a few procedures. Right now, we’re focusing on the Philadelphia region; check our partner ClearHealthCosts for national prices.

What about my privacy?
The health-care information you provide to us in this form will be used only anonymously, and will never be paired publicly with your email address. The Inquirer, 6ABC and ClearHealthCosts will preserve your privacy as part of our bond with you. The pricing, procedure and location information you provide to us will be shared publicly in the Find Prices” table on ClearHealthCosts.com and Philly.com to help you and others compare costs.

Your comments may also be posted wherever the table is posted. Except for your email address, the information we collect, including your comments, may also serve as the basis for articles and reports about health costs. We have also provided an opportunity for you to email our reporter Sarah Gantz at sgantz@phillynews.com if you wish to provide information. The Inquirer, 6ABC and ClearHealthCosts may use your email address to contact you directly to request more information about the data you have submitted; they will not share your email address with any other third parties.

What are some resources for measuring hospital quality?
There are many resources for measuring quality in health care, and many of them come to very different conclusions. Here are a few:

Several organizations rank hospitals. They include:

About ClearHealthCosts
ClearHealthCosts is a New York City company bringing transparency to the health-care marketplace by telling people what stuff costs. Using a combination of shoe-leather journalism, database sourcing and curation, crowdsourcing, and partnering, ClearHealthCosts is disclosing the secrets of an opaque marketplace, and seeking to help solve one of the biggest problems we face as a nation. For more, visit clearhealthcosts.com.

Jeanne Pinder is founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts, which is Philly.com’s data partner in the Philly Health Costs project.