The health care industry was rocked last year by the CMS release of chargemaster prices for various common procedures, which for the first time showed consumers the wild pricing disparities that have been common for decades. The release stung particularly because it had very little to do with how much money providers make. FAIR Health, a national, independent not-for-profit, maintains a database of 16 billion billed medical and dental claims—a much better representation of actual cost—and is making it available to consumers. Organization president Robin Gelburd will discuss how both consumers and other parties can use that data to estimate and manage health care costs during a HIMSS14 presentation, “Empowering Consumers with Access to Healthcare Cost Information,” at noon on Thursday, Feb. 27.

“In the past, consumers were bit players in their own play, because the [health care] transaction occurred at the provider and plan level, but now the ground is shifting in a way that makes them center stage in their own care,” Gelburd says, citing changing payment models, public and private insurance exchanges, and cost sharing for consumers. “They have to be more proactive shoppers.”

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