You shop around for the best price when you buy a new vacuum, you check multiple websites before you invest in a car, and you make sure you’re getting the best deal on airline tickets. But what are you doing to make sure you’re paying the right price for your healthcare? Fox Business reports that there are 43 million Americans with unpaid medical debt, and that costs for the same medical procedure can vary between hospitals and other healthcare centers by $200,000. So how are you supposed to know what a medical procedure should be costing you? The website Healthcare Bluebook provides you with just that information.
Healthcare and consumerism
A 2007 study by the National Center for Policy Analysis created an outline for how to both improve healthcare quality and lower the cost for the patient. The study found that the solution may be allowing patients to act as consumers, giving them access to pricing information before their service and empowering them to use that information to make cost-effective choices for quality healthcare.
The cost of some in-network procedures can vary by over 400 percent, and the biggest factor in cost variation is where care is provided. But since healthcare facilities are not transparent about costs, you don’t know if you’ve been overcharged until you get your bill in the mail.The average deductible for healthcare costs can be $1000 or higher, with the coinsurance (the percentage of the total bill that the consumer pays) ranging from 20–40 percent of the cost.
The website Healthcare Bluebook (also available as an app for Apple and Android users) explains how their site helps, saying, “Our free Fair Price search tool makes it easy to find the price you can expect to pay for medical services in your area. With answers at your fingertips, you can now make fully-informed decisions to get the right care at the right price—whenever you need it.”
Start by entering your ZIP code and then use the search bar or drop down menus to find your medical or dental procedure or prescription medication that you want to know the fair cost for. The site’s pricing tool gives consumers access to the estimated fair cost for services like surgeries, MRIs, blood tests, X-rays, dental work, and hospital procedures.