WASHINGTON, May 14 (UPI) -- The Health Care Cost Institute, a Washington non-profit group, said it would work with three of the nation's largest health insurance companies -- Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare -- to provide consumers price information for health care services.
In addition, the data will be supplemented with quality and other information to help consumers make more informed healthcare decisions. However, the participating health insurance companies will continue to offer their own cost transparency tools.
"Consumers, employers and regulatory agencies will now have a single source of consistent, transparent health care information based on the most reliable data available, including actual costs, which only insurers currently have," David Newman, executive director of the Health Care Cost Institute, said in a statement.
"Voluntarily making this information available will be of immeasurable value to consumers and other health system participants as they seek to manage the cost and quality of care."
U.S. healthcare costs have been rising more than three times as fast as wages and by the end of the decade, U.S. healthcare spending is estimated to reach $4.7 trillion -- an 80 percent increase from $2.6 trillion in 2010.
The new tool will aggregate pricing data from commercial health plans, as well as Medicare Advantage and Medicaid health plans, if states agree.
The Health Care Cost Institute began in September 2011 and is supported by Aetna, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and UnitedHealthcare to promote independent, non-partisan research and analysis on the causes of the rise in U.S. health spending.