Vanderbilt launches new online cost estimator

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Posted at 9:58 PM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 22:58:21-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Vanderbilt University launched a new online tool that will help patients estimate what they'll be paying out-of-pocket for hospital services.

The cost estimator can be used by anyone online.

“There is significant frustration among consumers about costs and the lack of price transparency in health care. Committed to help address this issue, we have been able to accomplish an important goal of placing information about many out-of-pocket costs at the fingertips of patients and their families,” said Cecelia Moore, MHA, CPA, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer in a press release.

Only a few hospitals nationally are offering user-generated online out-of-pocket cost estimates, and no other Nashville hospital currently offers comparable technology, according to the leader for the cost estimator project, Heather Dunn, vice president for VUMC Revenue Cycle Services,

“We want to be upfront with patients about what care is going to cost them out-of-pocket and provide a tool for patients to better understand their insurance benefits and what their potential costs might be. I think it will alleviate a lot of anxiety,” Dunn said in a release.

“While we may be saying to a patient, ‘It's going to be $1,400 for you to come here for your procedure,’ we can also say, ‘If you need help to understand the estimate, we can refer you to our financial counselors for assistance.’”

Patients can get online user-generated out-of-pocket cost estimates (hospital and professional services combined) for selected outpatient services, selected inpatient and outpatient surgical procedures and radiology services. Prospective patients can receive estimates for other VUMC services by calling Patient Financial Services at 615-936-6639.

All they have to do is enter the specific service they want to see a price for. Insured users can enter their insurance member and group numbers from their insurance card, the estimator retrieves benefit information from the insurer via a secure internet connection; alternatively, these users can manually enter figures for their co-insurance obligation, remaining annual deductible and out-of-pocket maximum.