Speaking at the annual Health Datapalooza conference this week, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced a challenge to encourage health care organizations, designers, developers, digital tech companies and other innovators to design a medical bill that’s simpler, cleaner, and easier for patients to understand, and to improve patients’ experience of the overall medical billing process.
The “A Bill You Can Understand” design and innovation challenge is intended to solicit new approaches and draw national attention to a common complaint with the health care system: that medical billing is a source of confusion for patients and families, according to Burwell.
For many, she explained, the problem starts with the billing process itself. People who use health care in the U.S. today can often receive bills from multiple hospitals, doctors, labs or specialists for the same episode of care that vary in content, presentation and use of health industry jargon. Because of this, it can be difficult for patients to understand what they owe, what their insurance plan covers, and whether the bills are correct or complete.
“This challenge is part of HHS’ larger effort to put patients at the center of their own health care,” said Secretary Burwell. “With today’s announcement, we are creating progress toward a medical bill that people can actually understand and a billing process that makes sense – progress that includes creating a forum that brings everyone to the table: patients, doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and innovators.”