September 21, 2015 Newsletter

For decades Consumer Reports has been pushing, on behalf of consumers, to improve the information available up front about the cost and quality of healthcare services. That information is needed in order for consumers to find the best value among competing medical providers, but it's hard to find.

The challenges are great. Healthcare costs, prices and insurance rules are seldom transparent. Healthcare quality can be difficult to measure. The major stakeholders often benefit by keeping consumers in the dark.

So we are extremely pleased to announce an important advance in these efforts.
CR has launched California Healthcare Compare, in partnership with the California Department of Insurance and health policy experts at the University of California San Francisco.

Using this new web site, Californians can compare hospitals and medical groups' quality in the areas of maternity care, hip and knee replacement, back pain, colon cancer screening and diabetes. The site also reveals estimated regional costs for more than 100 different medical topics, ranging from appendicitis to urinary tract infections, illustrating dramatic price differences from region to region. Plus, Consumer Reports provides consumers with expert advice on how to navigate the healthcare system.

This is a first step. The CDI hopes that doctors, hospitals and insurers within the state will see the benefit of sharing more detailed information, particularly for consumers who pay a large share of their medical bills.

And we urge regulators in other states to follow California's lead on this important path toward healthcare consumer empowerment.
Tara Montgomery
Senior Director, Health Impact

Patients' own stories enhance our site
Patients and their advocates are increasingly speaking out, pushing back, and talking with health care providers about which tests and treatments are really needed. Now patients are sharing their experiences publicly, in the new Patients' stories feature of our Consumer Health Choices web site. In a remarkable flood of interest, the initial stories were read a total of more than 7,000 times, in just one week. We invite anyone with a similar message to get in touch.
New report addresses uses of medical data
Large amounts of digital data are being employed to help people stay healthy and to improve the delivery and quality of care. Consumer Reports has produced a 16-page guide, Your Medical Data: What You Need to Know Now, to help consumers understand how their records are being used -- and to address privacy concerns surrounding that use. Consumer Reports produced this report with support from Atlantic Philanthropies and in collaboration with AcademyHealth. 
Our newest Health Impact partner
The Lancaster County Business Group on Health is recognized as a resource and advocate for quality healthcare in Lancaster County, working to help local businesses adapt to the challenges of employer-sponsored healthcare. It shares real-time information that employers can use and provides educational and networking forums for companies seeking to make intelligent decisions on health benefits for the local workforce.  

Support our work
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In the news
NPR: Medical Schools Teach Students to Talk With Patients About Care Costs 

New York Times: What Are a Hospital's Costs? Utah System is Trying to Learn

Mother Jones: Antibiotics are Spreading Like Crazy - and a Lot of Them Are About to Stop Working

EverydayHealth: 5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Overtreatment