Web site shows what health insurers pay Minnesota doctors, clinics

The online resource had previously offered quality-of-care comparisons.

By Emily Berry — Posted Sept. 17, 2009

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Minnesota has announced what Gov. Tim Pawlenty called the first online tool in the nation that allows patients to see what insurance companies pay for common medical procedures.

Minnesota Community Measurement, a coalition of health plans and medical organizations that includes the Minnesota Medical Assn., in August began offering cost reports on its Web site (link).

Pawlenty announced the site at an Aug. 26 news conference and hailed it as a big step forward in letting patients comparison-shop by looking at the cost data on 105 procedures, as well as the quality information that the site has collected over the last five years.

"This is just a first step for us," said Jim Chase, president of Minnesota Community Measurement. "We're going to have to get better at providing more information and a way that consumers will be able to act on."

Noel Peterson, MD, a urologist with Olmsted Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., who serves as president of the Minnesota Medical Assn., said he wasn't sure how useful listing the allowable charges for services will be for patients. The MMA participated in the process to help shape what was included in the Web site.

Even if patients "shopped" based on the listed costs, and that translated into saving out-of-pocket costs, that might not be ideal, he said.

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