Monday, June 28, 2010

Can You Lower Your Health Care Bill?

From the Chicago Tribune:
Get multiple quotes in writing. Before your procedure, shop around to various doctors to find out how much they charge and how much they expect insurance to pay. Get those price quotes in writing, with a name, title and signature, so that you have a paper trail if you end up getting charged more later. Remember to cover all the costs associated with the procedure and every doctor in the room: lab costs, the anesthesiologist, the radiologist, etc.

You may want to consult the "Healthcare Blue Book" beforehand ( It's a medical pricing guide that states the average compensation that medical providers accept from insurers for services ranging from surgery to dental and eye-care procedures.

It's especially helpful for those with high deductibles or who are paying out of pocket.

"Healthcare Blue Book is a great tool," Hicks said. "We're actually partnering with them, and will have a service in place for our members this summer that will let them click a few buttons to access local medical costs so they can find fair prices and save money. We'll rely on Healthcare Blue Book to provide that information."
I would add a word of caution about promoted in this article: some of the data are simply not accurate.

For instance, I looked up the costs for placing a permanent pacemaker and for a cardiac defibrillator, and the costs quoted by the site for the two different devices were identical: $4275. Further, there is no differentiation made regarding the type of pacemaker or defibrillator (such as single, dual, or biventricular devices).

Still, it's a start and the other points made by the article are worthwhile. Just don't be surprised if the medical billing office won't come close to matching some of the prices they quote online.



SharonRN said...

Very helpful and will pass to friends and family who are without health insurance

Angela said...

Ok as a Canadian i'm shocked that advice like this, and sites/information like that exists... Just.. WOW


Anonymous said...

Fantastic website, thanks for letting us know about Healthcare Blue Book.

As you say, it may not be perfect, but at least someone is trying to help patients. The hospitals certainly don't. When i needed surgery my hospital told me they would let me know what I owed AFTER they did the surgery!