With consumer reviews, comparison sites, and easy access to product information, finding the best price and highest quality for goods and services is now easier than ever. Except for healthcare. Price shopping for healthcare services is nearly foreign. Not only are medical procedures complex with many specialized pieces to the puzzle, but the actual cost is shrouded in ambiguity.
What does the full price of a coronary artery bypass cost? Well, it depends. Where do you live? Where are you getting it done? Who’s your healthcare provider? Who’s the practitioner? What does your plan cover? How soon do you need it?
With all the variables that can shift the cost of a common procedure from a fair price to an expensive one, many don’t bother shopping or price comparing. In fact, many don’t believe you can. However, with the constant rising cost of healthcare making even basic and common services pricey, shopping for the best price is hitting a new wave of interest.
Should you price shop? And, if so, how?
Situations That Make Shopping Around Difficult
Before we go into the best ways to compare healthcare costs, it should be noted that this is not as readily available for some. For example, if you find yourself in an emergency situation, such as a heart attack, car accident, or chemical burn, you need to get to the closest medical facility as quickly as possible. Price comparisons at this point are less important than receiving immediate medical attention, even if a better price could be found down the street at a facility and with a practitioner further away.
Also, shopping around can be complicated when your health insurance is through a private health insurance company or Medicare and Medicaid. Third-party payers often obscure or distort the full cost of the procedure, which makes it difficult to find the best financial solution.
How To Shop Around For The Best Price?
Even with health insurance, taking time to price compare non-emergency services could save you hundreds, even thousands, depending on your deductible. If you or your family ends up needing an emergency procedure, information on the costs may help you down the road to negotiate a fair market rate later.
To start price shopping, here’s where to start:
- Start Researching Online
There are many online tools that will compare and contract medical services for you. One of the best is FairHealthConsumer.org, which provides healthcare cost estimates based on 26 billion healthcare claims for more than 10,000 services all over the U.S.
Here are a few others:
- Call Several Healthcare Providers
Compare costs by simply calling several providers and requesting pricing information. When you do, make sure you always contact providers within your network. Also, remember the price they give will be the list price and is usually on the higher end of the price range.
- Review Your Health Insurance Policy
Healthcare plans rarely deliver the lowest prices. However, knowing and fully understanding your policy will help you obtain the most benefit from your plan.
- Research Direct-Pay and Cash Only Options
Paying the cash price for a service may end up being even less than your deductible or co-pay. With the rising cost of healthcare and the complexity of the healthcare system, direct-pay and cash pay providers are on the rise, like GenScripts Pharmacy. We provide our customers with the highest quality prescriptions at the lowest costs. By cutting out the middleman, we can offer our customers without health insurance or with high deductibles savings up to 80%. Even with insurance, our prices are often far less than your co-pay.
Ultimately, shopping around for the best price in medical services can provide you incredible savings, while making sure you get the service and care you and your family needs.