Shopping for health care by price is a daunting task

  • Article by: KARA McGUIRE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 2, 2010 - 9:40 PM

It helps to know the codes when comparing costs for medical procedures.

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momof4wiOct. 3, 10 7:12 AM

The government recently made a site available (as of friday) where you can compare 4400 plans from 255 insurance carriers based on where you live, your age, and gender. It is to be updated monthly. You will be able to see what the maximim out of pocket expenses will be, the deductibles, monthly premium, and major type of covered services. They will also provide the percentage of plan applications denied in last 3 months. The site is healthcare.gov

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merkinOct. 3, 10 8:20 AM

The system is still too much of a pita (pain in the petunia) to be terribly useful for consumers. As the article's author pointed out, you don't have time to shop around for the best price when you have a medical emergency at hand.

Pricing and compensation needs to be further simplified so people don't have to be worried about being gouged when they're at their most vulnerable. I still think it was a big mistake not to fight for a single payer system with the new health care bill. It probably would have meant that the bill wouldn't have passed, but that's the way to go.

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kgafkjenOct. 3, 10 6:45 PM

You are a healthy family now. And that is good. You are saving $$$ going high deductable. We did that too. But our situation changed. Now we have health issues and have gone through all that $$ we saved up. Currently, if one's health changes, it isn't easy (and may be impossible) to change insurance policies. Unless you'd like to just drop your insurance. Insurance and health care pricing is a big confusing deep hole. You've touched a small part of it, but it is important: most of health care isn't something we can just "shop around" for.

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alb2002Oct. 4, 10 9:38 AM

An important point that this article fails to mention, is the restriction that prevents physician offices from posting their contracted price for a service. If medical providers were allowed to publish their contracted prices, you would find that independently owned physician groups, on average, are less expensive (est. between 25-40% less) than clinics owned by Allina, Fairview, Park Nicollet, etc. This is for the same service. The same applies for outpatient imaging and other services. If you receive your MRI from an outpatient imaging facility, your cost will be significantly less than if performed at a hospital. There is a reason a Fairview patient is referred only to a Fairview owned Imaging facility and it is not out of concern for your pocket book. It is to cover their huge fixed asset costs.

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