What if you could shop around for the most affordable medical service? Often times as a consumer, it doesn’t feel as if you have much of a choice and you accept the costs when you receive the bill months later, assuming that your medical service has to cost that much. Before you spend your health care dollars, you should feel like you can weigh your options and clearly understand the costs from the start. Health care and insurance costs are rising, and as consumers pay more out of pocket, they need new and better tools to make the smartest spending choices.

Tools like that are being developed, like guroo.com, an online tool that looks to empower consumers by sharing actual cost information of health care services. It doesn’t matter what insurer a consumer has or if they have no insurance at all, guroo is meant to make health care costs more transparent for everyone.

Guroo is a model for giving power back to the consumers so they can have more control over their health care spending. As individuals choose services with lower prices, this will hopefully lower prices for all, pressuring providers to lower prices to stay competitive.

On guroo.com, consumers can search or browse through over 80 conditions, tests or possible treatment programs (what guroo calls “care bundles”). Care bundles are designed so that consumers can understand the likely steps involved in a treatment program and the expected costs along the way.

Guroo provides a national average cost and a cost range, and when data is available, shows state and local average cost information. Average costs aren’t the only tools guroo provides, it also includes information like how long procedures last, why a treatment is typically recommended and questions to ask. Guroo.com hopes that the consumer takes this information to their care provider to make a smarter, more affordable choice.

The tool is powerful because it shares actual costs at both a national and a local level, but doesn’t yet have information specific to hospitals or doctors. It also doesn’t have information about the quality of care for services. A consumer could make a more meaningful decision, not just a cost-conscious choice, if they know more about the quality of care.

The Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI), an independent, non-profit organization, launched guroo.com for consumers to be able to make more informed health care choices. HCCI created guroo.com with an amount of health care claims data that no one else has from health insurance companies Aetna, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, and UnitedHealthcare, as well as from about 40 million Americans. HCCI envisions an even more powerful platform in the future that would include quality information, a Spanish-language version and the costs of prescriptions.

Guroo.com sets an example for a more transparent health care industry that empowers consumers. Although the tool would be more potent with information about the quality of care, guroo seems to be an unmatched, consumer-friendly way to assess national and local health care costs. Right now, guroo seeks to help individuals get more value out of their health care dollars, but this could be the beginning of a movement for better prices for all.