A recent feature in Time magazine about intransparency in healthcare costs has motivated the White House to make use of its open data initiative. Since last week, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) offers a list of hospital charges across the US. The Medicare Provider Charge Data includes charges of more than 3,000 US hospitals. Not only does the list show how much patients are charged for services, it also discloses how much Medicare paid hospitals for the same treatment. The list once again points out that charges across the country vary significantly. Niall Brennan of CMS stated on Twitter that the data was downloaded more than 100,000 times 24 hours after the launch.
What’s even more interesting is that the White House promotes the visualization of the data. „The data centers’ work helps consumers better understand the comparative price of procedures in a given region or for a specific health insurer or service setting. Businesses and consumers alike can use these data to drive decision-making and reward cost-effective provision of care“, says the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in an official statement. The total program funding estimates at $87 million, applicants for the grant can submit their proposals until August 1st 2013.
Do you have any suggestions on how to visualize these healthcare costs? We’d embrace any ideas on how to promote cost transparency. So we surely hope a lot of health tech and data afficianados will take up on the mission.