- HHS announced a new contest yesterday at the 7th annual Health Datapalooza to make medical bills easier to understand.
- The contest, "A Bill You Can Understand," is backed by AARP and the Mad*Pow design agency in collaboration with HHS.
- Two prizes of $5,000 each will be awarded: One for the easiest bill to understand and the other for its "transformational approach." Winners will be announced in September. Entries will be accepted until August 10.
HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell noted the challenge is part of the agency's "larger effort to put patients at the center of their own healthcare."
Several of the contest's partners, including the American Medical Association (AMA) and Humana, will assist in guiding participants.
The contest website, which provides extensive details on the contest's guidelines, also includes information about the problems with medical bills, noting in particular there is no standard for consumer medical billing documents. "Bills vary in content, presentation, and health industry jargon," the website notes.
In addition, patients often receive bills from different sources for the same episode of care and it can be difficult to decipher which expenses insurance will cover. This can, understandly so, result in frustration but more seriously could lead to hesitancy to seek care, non-payment or over-payment of medical expenses.
In order to make the billing process easier to understand and more cohesive, the website states, "the dual purpose of this challenge is to redesign the medical bill itself so it's easier for patients to understand and to innovate the experience of medical billing to make the financial aspect of health easier to manage."
Six healthcare systems have agreed to test or implement the winning entries: Cambia Health Solutions, Geisinger Health System, INTEGRIS Health, MetroHealth System, Providence Health & Services and the University of Utah Health Care.