Scott Powder, Advocate Health Care's chief strategy officer, had a frustrating experience trying to price shop for an MRI for his daughter. That's part of what led him to embark on a two-year effort to make his system's pricing simpler and more transparent for consumers.
“We've made a lot of progress, but every time you take two steps forward, you often have to take a half-step back,” Powder said.
Last year, Advocate unveiled flat prices on certain services for self-pay patients at its 56 urgent-care clinics located at Walgreens stores and at its Advocate Medical Group outpatient centers in the Chicago area.
The Downers Grove, Ill.-based system is charging $60 for children's physicals for sports teams or camp, and $70 for adult physicals for employment or life insurance. It's charging $89 for treatment by a nurse practitioner of 30 common illnesses and injuries such as earaches, respiratory infections and urinary tract infections. The system previously based charges on the services delivered in each case and the site of service.
Now Advocate is working on extending the fixed-price policy to diagnostic-imaging procedures, combining the facility and professional charges into one unified price.