Having easy access to understandable information is critical to a quality healthcare system. It is so critical that since 1999, October has been designated as Health Literacy Month, a time to bring awareness to the importance of making complex health information easy for all to navigate.
During Health Literacy Month, organizations and individuals raise awareness about the importance of understandable health information and work to advance its mission of “building awareness through action.” Healthcare systems, medical industry, education and government and public health agencies are encouraged to collaborate to break down complex processes and barriers so that individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand resources needed to make informed health decisions.
Legislative Effort to Mandate Price Transparency in Healthcare
Currently, there is complexity in healthcare due to a lack of price transparency and imperfect information. This is especially prevalent in medical billing. Legislation is in effect to better enable Americans with knowing the true cost of provider health services before receiving care and submitting a claim. In 2021, a consortium of U.S. government agencies issued its final rules on transparency in coverage aimed at reducing consumer confusion about out-of-pocket expenses and medical billing, as well as cost-sharing responsibilities for covered services. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has also issued guidance and requires hospitals operating in the United States to provide clear, accessible pricing information online about the clinical services.
Although federal and state policymakers are focusing on improving transparency, price variation and complexity remains a risk. For this reason, many employer-sponsored health plans are adopting reference-based pricing (RBP). Under RBP, the employer (supported by a third-party administrator) pays a set a price for each health care service instead of negotiating prices with providers. RBP strategy is designed to moderate skyrocketing costs of traditional hospital reimbursement systems and bases insurance payouts on a multiple of Medicare pricing to establish a common payment ceiling, achieving price transparency through consistent use across health networks.
Serving Health Plan Administrators, Employers, Plan Participants and Industry as an Agent of Change
Since our formation in 2020, aequum has teamed up with health plan administrators and plan sponsors of more than 325 self-funded health plans to protect plan participants against unreasonable medical charges, out-of-network-balance billing and overpayment. Our team employs innovative, tech-driven resources that provide data analytic insight into accurate price information that resolves billing disputes and achieves savings on overpayment claims. aequum strives to assist plan participants in understanding their health plan, explanation of benefits, provider bills, and more.
aequum supports Health Literacy Month and shares a common mission of advancing the flow and exchange of equitable health information. We serve as an agent of change within our industry through our advocacy and applying best practices in information technology to benefit health plans and their participants and help level the playing field.
To learn more about how aequum protects patients, health plans and insurers across the United States, please visit aequumhealth.com.
Sidebar: What can you do to support Health Literacy Month?
There are several online provider resources available to increase knowledge and skills on health literacy. Click here for some tips on behalf of the Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA) to raise awareness about Health Literacy Month and its activities.