Comparison Shopping & Health Care

HealthPointe Team Health & Wellness Leave a Comment

How much is this going to cost?  How much will my insurance cover?  These are questions some people fail to ask before seeing the doctor.  Comparison shopping is now a thing of the future.  Over half of the people in the United States will postpone or ignore necessary medical procedures due to cost of treatment.

Can you shop around for the best price? There are websites that will show you the price of some  health care providers in your area.  However, it is not a complete list and is usually for people who are not insured.   ClearHealthCosts.com tells you that it will help you comparison shop for health care and dental.  However, what it fails to tell you is that you must have a procedure code to actually get any comparisons.  How many people outside of a billing expert know that the procedure code for a routine mammogram has several different codes?

Another so called comparison shopping site, OkCopay.com says that it will comparison shop for you if you are a cash only patient.  If you go to their website expecting to see a list of comparisons you will be disappointed.  They show one result.  I went to their site to check on routine dental cleaning for a cash patient.  Only one dental office was listed.  This particular dental office is a corporation therefore, the price may not be consistent or current.  (This one was not current or accurate.)

These websites state you “might” be able to comparison shop.  You “might” be able to get them to reduce their fees.  For cash only patients they “might” work out a better payment plan.  However, the key word in that statement is “MIGHT.”

If you need physical therapy you will find that the more experienced therapist with the most skill may charge more than a new physical therapist.  Sometimes paying for experience at the beginning is better than pay for more later on.  If the therapist was unable to help due to inexperience you may face extra sessions.  Comparison shopping should not be only about price.  Wouldn’t you want the best care for the money you spend??

Most people would agree trusting your health care professional provides a comfort.  They know your history and look out for your best interest.  You must decide if saving a few dollars is worth seeing someone who doesn’t know you very well–and that you don’t know either.

Know your market and the probability of comparison shopping.  Larger hospitals or dental corporations may have more room to negotiate.  They also have a larger clientele so may not be as willing to negotiate a lower price for cash payment.  If you live in a small region where there are very few providers you may not have negotiating power.  The providers may not be as willing to negotiate since the next provider is far away.  Who wants to drive 50 miles to the next doctor or dentist?

Guroo.com will show you the national average cost of a procedure and the cost of that procedure in your state.  This is a nice tool to inform you of the standard charge of a designated test in the area will be.  However, it is not a comparison shopping tool.  It is more for the transparency of cost.  Healthcarebluebook.com is another website that offers a transparency of cost.  It includes a very small list of providers in your area that “might” offer the price their  site shows.

Please remember that just because a website tool for comparison shopping indicates a doctor or dentist is going to charge a certain price for a procedure it is NOT a guarantee.  Doctors and dentists routinely update their charged amounts for procedures based on usual standard price in the area.  Comparison shopping is a guide not a guarantee.  As long as you remember that point your doctor visit will not hold big surprises.

Unisured people face challenges with the ever rising cost of health care.  This year there are fines assessed if you don’t have medical insurance.  Open enrollment for individual medical insurance for under 65 is in November.  Be prepared and proactive with your health.  Call our office and we will be happy to discuss your options for health care coverage.

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