HHS kicks off challenge to design a better medical bill

On May 9, 2016, HHS announced that registration was open for the “A Bill You Can Understand Design and Innovation Challenge,” an effort by the agency to encourage those working in health care or other relevant entities, such as digital information experts, to imagine a new form of the medical bill as well as a new medical billing process. The challenge was announced in the Federal Register.


The challenge involves two objectives. First, HHS is asking participants to redesign the medical bill, “that is, making it more readable and easier for the consumer to understand.” In the second objective, HHS asked for a redesigning of the medical billing process. With respect to this objective HHS explained that “submissions could address any step in the consumer journey from the medical encounter to afterward.” This may include innovation relating to providing information at discharge about the process or developing a consolidation process, HHS noted. Overall, the agency predicted that the challenge would result in “conceptual solutions and frames that will help health systems and payers continue to make improvements in reducing the complexity of medical bills and improving the financial aspect of health from the patient’s perspective.” Specifically, HHS indicated that submissions should include: a design concept, a journey map or wireframe for the new patient process, and a written and video explanation.


Potential challenge contestants may be either: (1) a business or non-profit entity; or (2) an individual or team of “no more than five U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States who are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry.” Further, the entrants must meet the following requirements, participants must:

  • Register to participate pursuant to rules issued by CMS and the other requirements set forth in the Federal Register Notice;
  • Be incorporated and maintain a primary place of business in the U.S., if the participant is a private entity;
  • Not be a federal entity of an employee of the federal government who is working within the scope of their employment;
  • Not be employed by CMS or involved in any way of the judging or production of the challenge or an immediate family member of such an individual;
  • Not be a trustee, director, shareholder, employee, client, contractor, agent, representative, or affiliate of any entity involved with the production of the challenge; and
  • Not use certain other federal funding.

Prizes and dates

The agency is offering two prizes for those deemed the winners of the contest, each for $5000. One prize will be given for the most improved medical bill design and another will be awarded for the submission of the best transformational approach to the medical cost estimation and billing process.

Submissions were accepted by HHS starting on May 9, 2016, and will be accepted through August 10, 2016. The judging will occur between August 20, 2016, and September 10, 2016. The agency expects winners to be announced between September 25 and 28, 2016.

HHS describes the challenge, rules, eligibility, prizes, and relevant dates in more depth and provides a portal for enrollment on the challenge website.