State launches website that compares costs for selected health care services


The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) launched a new website called CostAware that compares health care prices.

The site shows that some hospital systems are charging more than others for selected procedures such as hip and knee replacement.  Also listed were complications with one hospital system having a significantly lower rate.

DHSS spokesperson Jil Freidel said the decision to not identify providers was by design and was viewed way for health care providers and others to become comfortable with the site.

“It is important to the Department of Health and Social Services to get stakeholders used to this level of transparency and to tweak the site, if needed, based on their feedback,” Friedel stated in an email message.

Friedel said DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik said the expectation is that the 2.0 version of CostAware will include the names of the hospital systems, accountable care organizations, and other providers as they are added to the site. DHSS expects to update CostAware with 2020 and 2021 medical claims data and more episodes of care and services in fall 2022.


Other cost comparisons came for common episodes of care – Cardiac procedures, C-section birth, emergency department visits, and vaginal delivery.

The costs across five accountable care organizations (ACOs) are also compared for seven common services: blood count, colonoscopy, doctor visits, hemoglobin A1c, head CT, lumbar spine MRI and screening mammography.

The rates are based on 2019 medical claims in the Delaware Health Care Claims Database and reflect the cost that consumers and their insurers actually paid for the care, a DHSS release stated.

In addition, quality measures are provided, including the re-admission and utilization rates, and patient satisfaction scores, all from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as part of its Hospital Compare and Medicare Shared Savings Program initiatives.

“This kind of transparency and public awareness of health care spending is important for everyone in the system – consumers, health care providers, taxpayers, insurers and businesses,” said DHSS Secretary Magarik. “We all want good value for the health care dollars we do spend. CostAware offers a glimpse into the actual costs that Delawareans and their insurers are paying, and the quality measures associated with that care.”

In early 2020, DHSS and the Delaware Health Care Commission began working with the Delaware Health Information Network (DHIN) to develop and implement various health care cost and quality analyses. These analyses leverage data in the Delaware Health Care Claims Database (HCCD), which was established through legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2016. DHIN manages the claims database and DHSS uses it in relation to a variety of policy initiatives.

 The site also fits in with Gov. John Carney’s efforts to deal with rising

In late 2018, Carney signed Executive Order 25, establishing a state health care spending benchmark, a per-annum rate-of-growth benchmark for health care spending, and several health care quality measures.

The first spending benchmark went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019, and was set at 3.8%, with the target expected to decrease gradually to 3% over the following three years. The first benchmark report measured the growth rate at 7.8% for 2019, or more than twice the 3.8% target.