El Camino Hospital puts pricing online

El Camino Hospital in Mountain View unveiled an online price estimator yesterday, giving patients the ability to look up a tailored quote for medical procedures based on their insurance plan.

The estimator went live in May after a year of working with a vendor, but has now officially launched after some final tweaks, hospital CFO Iftikhar Hussain told the Post. For two years, patients have also been able to call for price estimates, but the new online tool “tries to remove the complexity and get the patient the direct information that they need,” Hussain said.

Many hospitals have estimators that quote a price range based on what patients paid in the past, but Hussain said El Camino’s tool gives much more specific quotes by making a direct insurance query.

“I think patients find this information helpful,” Hussain said. “When you look at trends in the industry, there is a desire on the part of health care providers to be more transparent.”

Patients without insurance can also look up price quotes. According to the price estimator, an uninsured patient would pay $114.56 for a blood culture, $164.49 for 45 minutes of occupational therapy or $672.75 for an abdominal ultrasound.

And, Hussain said, being able to look up prices can help patients shop around and advocate for lower health care costs.

“If people find their prices not reasonable, we’ll definitely follow up and make adjustments,” Hussain said. “We make sure that we’re not pushing the envelope on our prices.”