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This startup has a plan to improve price transparency in health care

Sick of dealing with health care bills? A new website called SingleCare is launching today to deal with those messy transactions on its customers’ behalf. The startup, which is based in Columbus, Ohio, was founded by longtime health executive Rick Bates. The idea is a website for people to share their credit card information and compare pricing between a list of providers and pharmacies. From there, customers can book an appointment and pay their bill (which includes a transaction fee for SingleCare). Currently, the company’s offering is available in five states: Arizona, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, and Maryland. According to Bates, 50,000 customers have signed up so far. 

But price transparency is a tough nut to crack. SingleCare’s challenges include selling itself to customers who already have full insurance coverage, including dental and vision. It also faces an uphill battle in building out a network of physicians who are willing to share pricing information for patients paying out-of-pocket. Furthermore, the website lacks information about physician quality; some doctors might charge more than others because they have a better track record. 

Obstacles aside, Bates is convinced that he can succeed where others have failed: “We are not seeing a lot of people who are trying to manage the consumer purchase,” he says. “I believe we have the right model.”CF