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The New Way To Price Shop For Medical Services

I heard a story recently about a man that needed a medical procedure, but because he did not have health insurance he wanted to shop around and get the best price.  While at first glance, the idea of shopping for medical services based on price seems a little odd, it really shouldn’t be.  We consider price in virtually all other areas of our financial expenditures, why not medical services?  The answer is that since someone else is usually paying the bill, the issue of price is rarely a concern of the patient.  As this gentleman attempted to price shop for his needed medical procedure, he found it extremely difficult to get either doctors or hospitals to quote rates.  It was as if there was a secret list of prices that the public was not supposed to be have access to.  Now, a number of websites are making it easier for people in such circumstances to get price quotes.  The average family paid nearly $6,000 last year in out-of-pocket medical expenses and that is likely to continue to rise.  Whether you don’t have insurance at all, or need to comparison shop to save on procedures that are not covered (or only partially covered), this appears to be a concept long overdue.



PriceDoc provides a way to comparison shop online for medical, dental, and vision care services.  Since patients agree to pay cash for services in advance of treatment, doctors avoid all of the paperwork and time lag involved in processing insurance claims.  The site is easy to use.  Simply type in your zip code and then select the procedure you are shopping for, and that’s it. 

From the PriceDoc Website:

Our nation is burdened with high medical and dental costs. At the same time, insurance coverage continues changing. It is slower to reimburse providers, deductibles are on the rise and co-payments are getting higher. In most cases, pre-existing conditions and elective procedures are not covered. Many Americans are finding that their insurance does not cover routine office visits and procedures. Finding the best-case price on the web is easy and makes sense.

Hospitals Offering Online Comparison Shopping

Sixteen state hospital associations offer Web sites for comparison shopping for such inpatient procedures as appendectomies, maternity stays and knee or hip replacements: Georgia, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.

There was a time back in mid 90’s when I had a medical plan that had very limited maternity coverage.  My wife was pregnant with our third child. We picked up the phone and called all of the local hospitals to negotiate.  We found a hospital just outside of Dallas (where we were living at the time) that we decided to go with.  The total cost was about $4,000 and today I have a healthy 15 year old daughter.  She may be horrified to read that her mom and dad price shopped the delivery services for her birth, but I guess that is how I gained my reputation so it should not surprise my readers.

Have you ever shopped for medical services?  Share your story, ideas, and strategies in the comments section below.

Helping you make the most of God’s money!

James L. Paris
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