Wyoming employers seek lower health care costs

Wyoming employers have joined forces with the shared goal of uncovering the true costs of health care. The Wyoming Business Coalition on Health is aiming to improve cost transparency by pooling data on health care costs, severing reliance on hospitals and insurance companies for the information. 

The goal is for employers to eventually use this information in negotiations directly with health care providers. Ideally, knowing what other organizations are paying should help them obtain more reasonable "bundled" payments, which involve a lump sump payment for common procedures. This can help patients avoid the surcharges and surprise costs that inflate the cost of care and force employers to put more of the financial responsibility on their employees. 

"It's like playing poker, where you know all of your cards and four of theirs," Hal Luttschwager, administrator of the public employee health plan for Missoula County, Montana  told local news source WyoFile. "We dump all the data into the warehouse we can, and ask for the data we want back. We plug in codes for mammography, compare them, talk to the providers to say, 'We have a good provider in you and we (provide you with a lot of business), can you work with us?' We can look at the data, and say 'your mammogram is ten bucks higher than someone else.' They may not know that." 

The lack of transparency in health care costs is also a leading cause of bad debt for health care providers. When patients are financially unprepared for the cost of their treatment, accounts receivable management professionals can start to observe problems with their organization's cash flow. Accounts receivable outsourcing has become a popular strategy to combat this problem, as it not only results in a more manageable claims load for in-house staff, but can also cause a sharp decrease in the number of dollars written off to bad debt.