In today’s economy, no one wants to pay too much for whatever he or she is buying. For most things, a prudent consumer can research the best deal, to ensure they are getting the most for their money.
Few people would go to a car dealership without first knowing what a fair price is for the car they are buying. So why is it that, when it comes to doctor visits, medical procedures or other health care necessities, most people don’t have a clue what their bill will be or if they are paying too much?
That was the question Dr. Jeffery Rice asked himself after realizing he’d just paid 10 times more for a blood test than he should have. He figured if this could happen to him, the average consumer was probably being overcharged too.
In 2009, the e-health expert started Healthcarebluebook.com, the first website to help people price health care services on a national basis. The site gives consumers free “fair pricing” information for a variety of medical services from doctor visits and hospital stays to medical tests and surgery for their specific area.
It’s the same concept as other online sites where consumers can research the best price for travel, home improvement services, car insurance or home loans.
The fair price is based on the average price health care plans negotiated to pay their network providers for a service in a specific market says Aimee Stern, vice president of communications at Healthcare Blue Book.
As Stern explains it, the price for the same health care services, procedure or treatments can vary by thousands of dollars even in the same market. For instance, uninsured patients often pay higher prices for hospital care, prescription drugs, lab tests and other health care services than those with health insurance. And several studies show a higher cost doesn’t necessarily mean higher quality or value.
If you are paying out of pocket, a cancer diagnosis can send your bottom line into a tailspin. In my area, a mastectomy for breast cancer can run from $6,400 to more than $24,000.