Compass Healthcare Aims to Navigate NH Healthcare Shopping Business to New Regions

[Correction—11 am ET on 12/20/10. See below.] We’re still unable to go online and shop for a medical procedure like we would for a plane ticket. At least for some people in New Hampshire, however, Compass Healthcare Advisers has made it easier to go online or call an 800 number to choose certain healthcare services such as MRIs and colonoscopies based on cost. And now the Bedford, NH-based startup is aiming to bring its service beyond the borders of the Granite State, CEO Rob Graybill says. [Editor’s note: Graybill was misidentified as a co-founder in the original version of this story.]

The company introduced its service in January when it activated its first customer, the City of Manchester, NH. The firm has since brought on the city’s teachers, New Hampshire state employees, and seven other employers in the state. Though most people aren’t accustomed to comparison shopping for their healthcare, the firm says that some 50,000 people who are eligible for its service are already saving their employers more than $100,000 this year in medical costs. For their efforts, people who use the service and elect to get their service from a certified provider are given an incentive payment of $25 to $100, according to Compass.

Graybill says that next year the firm, founded in 2009, is targeting growth in other parts of the Northeast as well as the Midwest and the mid-Atlantic.

Compass is among a growing number of firms that is offering services to shed more light on the costs of healthcare—including Castlight Health and Change:healthcare. They aim to add a dose of transparency that many believe is needed in the system. For now, Compass is focusing on about 36 elective diagnostic tests and procedures such as hernia repairs, CT scans, mammograms, colonoscopies, and MRIs. Its customers can use its service and qualify for rewards if they chose from a list of providers that qualify. In addition to the reward payment, choosing a lower-cost provider can save their employer money and, if they have a high-deductible health plan, lessen their own financial burden.

“Nobody today understands that it costs significantly different amounts for the same procedure, but once people start using our program and shopping for services, you see peoples’ eyes start lighting up when they realize that they can get an MRI for $750 instead of $2,000,” Graybill says.

To be clear, Compass’s SmartShopper service does not yet offer its customers an exact dollar cost of procedures. It focuses on letting them choose from a … Next Page »

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