Seattle’s Virginia Mason Medical Center has launched a comprehensive Patient Cost Estimator tool for prospective patients, providing them with an estimate of what their out-of-pocket cost will be for a variety of medical and surgical services based on their health insurance policy.

"While some health systems offer price estimates for surgeries and other procedures, those typically focus on the hospital portion of the care provided," company executives said. "In contrast, the new Virginia Mason Patient Cost Estimator offers a comprehensive estimate that includes charges from the physician, anesthesia, lab, and other departments."

The tool is currently a telephone-based resource. But, Amber Reeff, administrative director of patient financial services at Virginia Mason, said the tool should be available as on online resource by the autumn of 2015.

Additionally, Virginia Mason has posted the estimated prices of its 50 most common minor outpatient surgical procedures at its website here.

“Many times people set up surgeries or treatments with little knowledge of what their personal share of the total cost will be,” Reeff said. “We believe we can improve the patient’s experience by improving transparency in the health care purchasing process.”

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