Price Shop When Using Health Care

Price Shop When Using Health Care

May 17, 2010 Posted by Tarren Bragdon - No Comments

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram has a story by John Richardson about the wide price differences charged at various providers for the same health care procedure.  The story includes a great graphic showing price variations for Anthem customers compared to the uninsured for some common procedures.

The article tells the story of a particular customer with a high-deductible plan who regrets not price shopping, or using Anthem’s own price comparison tool, to save money.  Sadly, the patient blames Anthem rather than taking personal responsibility for being a more prudent consumer.  After all, she is paying the bill for the first $5,000 in care – not Anthem.

We all drive a few miles to buy gas that is a couple pennies less per gallon.  Maybe we should consider doing the same when it comes to procedures that cost thousands of dollars.

Of course, if you want to see even more dramatic price differences, compare hospitals within all of New England.  Several large employers in Maine are using the services of third party administrators such as Patient Advocates LLC of Gray, Maine to save even more money by letting their employees choose to go to lower-cost and higher-or-equal-quality hospitals out of state.  Think of it as medical tourism without leaving New England.