Former Humana director launches website to compare hospital prices, quality ratings

A Kentucky entrepreneur launched JoePatient.com, a website that uses CMS data to help consumers navigate the complexities of hospital pricing and quality ratings on different procedures, the Courier-Journal reports.

"The [healthcare] industry is putting more and more burden on the consumer" to navigate costs, insurance coverage, copays and deductibles, but they're not being given the tools to advocate for themselves, said website founder Steve Makela, a former director of strategy at Humana.

The website, launched in January, provides information on hospitals across the U.S. so consumers can compare prices, read news stories about facilities and share details of their inpatient experiences.

The website's launch comes after hospitals have started complying with a Trump administration order to post list prices for all their services Jan. 1.

The rule requires hospitals to publish their standard charges on the internet. They also must present the information in a machine-readable format that can easily be imported into a computer system and update the information at least annually, but consumers have struggled to decipher the posted prices.

Mr. Makela said he thinks the website will be successful even if only a fraction of those involved in hospital admissions buy subscriptions to his data vault.

"We're presenting math and facts. [Plus] there's an opportunity here for people to really see how ridiculous hospital pricing is," he said.

Consumers can browse the site for free, but premium access for 24 hours costs $2.99 and $9.99 for nine months. Mr. Makela said details on physicians and elder care facilities could be added within a year.

A third of the fees from $9.99 subscriptions will be shared with three nonprofits working in Alzheimer's research, mental illness and environmental action.

More articles on patient engagement:
Hospitals' online prices prove difficult for patients to understand
47% of cancer patients do not have treatment advocate, survey finds
Physician viewpoint: We must stop blaming patients for unhealthy lifestyle choices

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