Built with settlement money from health insurance companies, it will help drive down medical costs, says New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
The attorney general investigated the Ingenix database, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth. "[A]s a subsidiary of the second-largest insurer in the nation, Ingenix had a vested interest in helping set rates low, so companies could underpay patients for out-of-network services," the attorney general's office said. The result was that "consumers were forced to pay more than they should have," by 10-28%.
"Beginning in January, Attorney General Cuomo secured agreements with every national and regional health insurer operating in New York State to end their use of the Ingenix database and financially commit to the new, independent database," the attorney general's office said.
Using the new database, consumers will be able to look up procedures and find out how much they'll be reimbursed, so they'll know the cost of a treatment before they get it, the attorney general's office said.
About 70 percent of insured working families have out-of-network plans that let them choose their own doctors, a system that affects more than 110 million people, Cuomo said.
The insurance industry can benefit from the change too, Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for the trade group America's Health Insurance Plans, told the Associated Press. Health insurers say the prices doctors charge for care vary greatly around the country. "Hopefully this database will help shed light on the exorbitant prices that out-of-network providers are charging for some services," Zirkelbach said.