State launches Web site to compare health care costs
ST. PAUL - Minnesotans can go to a Web site to get an idea about how much health care providers charge for some services.
A hundred of the most common health services are priced on the Minnesota Community Measurement Web site. The average prices are in addition to some quality ratings that have been on the site since 2004.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty said the information will help Minnesotans be better health consumers, and thus will force down health care prices.
Not knowing how much a service will cost "is a great frustration," the governor said. "If they have that kind of information, they can begin to make good decisions."
His Wednesday announcement comes as he is making the national media rounds attacking what he considers President Barack Obama's government-centered, health care reform package. Pawlenty, whom many consider will run for president as a Republican, advocates changes that he says are aimed at lowering costs instead of just increasing the number of insured Americans.
Jim Chase, president of the group that runs the Web site, said that prices of more than 110 clinics are on the site, obtained through insurance documents.
"This is the first step," Chase said.
Pawlenty and Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Sanne Magnan also announced that they have awarded grants to 39 projects throughout Minnesota to reduce smoking and obesity. The $47 million was approved by legislators and will be used in projects serving 86 of the state's 87 counties and eight of Minnesota's 11 American Indian reservations.