The holidays are right around the corner. Everywhere we turn, we’re bombarded with Black Friday ads and doorbuster deals promising the lowest prices of the season. This isn’t unusual; we’re used to shopping for items – gifts for our family, the best deal on a new TV, and more. Sometimes we even shop around for services like a home improvement project, or a quote on a plumbing repair. What other purchases should you consider shopping for?
Shop for Healthcare?
Do you ever think about “shopping” for healthcare procedures. If you visited your doctor and were told you need to have an MRI, would you shop around for prices or would you use the facility your doctor recommended?
The Choice is Yours
Here’s something you may not know – you have a choice! There are always exceptions, but for the most part, you can shop around and can often find a lower price for your next procedure. You don’t always have to use the facility your doctor recommends. This is especially true for outpatient diagnostic procedures such as lab, x-rays, MRIs, CT scans and sleep studies.
Does It Really Make a Difference?
You’re probably thinking, how much could the price possibly vary and is it even worth my time? The answer is a lot and yes!
The price of a procedure can range by up to 400%! Here in St. Louis, Missouri a knee MRI can range from $420 to $3889! This price different applies to almost all procedures, too. It’s not specific to MRIs – sleep studies, screenings, arthroscopies, and more.
Without price comparisons (shopping) you will usually pay more than you should and your employer will pay more as well. As health benefits become more costly and employees and consumers should more of the cost, it’s more important than ever that you become a better informed healthcare consumer.
How to Shop for Care
If you’ve made it this far, we’ve piqued your interest. Now, here are the ways you actually shop for care on your next procedure.
- If you’re already a HooPayz member, be sure to use our Find Fair Healthcare Prices tool to compare prices on your next procedure. If you’re not a HooPayz member, talk to your company about offering this service to you as an employee.
- Before you receive care, call 2-3 providers (ask for the administrative staff or billing office) and ask for the price of your procedure. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples in terms of what is included in each price.
- As a general rule, hospitals are always going to be more expensive for outpatient procedures.
- Always use an in-network provider. If you choose an out-of-network provider, your costs will be even higher.
If you used these tips and were able to save money, we want to hear from you. Share your story in the comments below.