Most don’t shop for better health care prices

Most don’t shop for better health care prices

health-care-cost-newYes, the doctor visit was outrageously expensive. But did you even try to find a cheaper one?

A survey by HealthMine, a wellness group, suggests that three-quarters of Americans don’t compare prices when seeking medical services. The survey included 569 people enrolled in wellness programs.

If people assume that the cost of services is relatively inflexible — due either to regulations or market forces — they are sorely mistaken. Data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services showed that hospitals around the country often charge wildly different prices for the same service. An investigation by the New York Times cited a number of eye-popping disparities in prices among hospitals, including among those in the same area.

Forgoing a thorough price comparison is not only a risk to your pocket book, but a risk to your health, HealthMine suggests. Many Americans who assume that care is prohibitively expensive are skipping the doctor altogether, although the number of Americans who admit to avoiding necessary care due to cost has decreased since the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“With the increase in high deductible plans, consumers are shouldering more health care costs, but they are flying blind,” said HealthMine CEO Bryce Williams.

Touting its own price comparison tools for consumers, HealthMine also noted that only 19 percent of those polled said their wellness plan offered price comparison tools.

“Plan sponsors must inform, empower and protect consumers with current healthcare cost information,” Williams said. “Powerful, scalable wellness platforms, like HealthMine, can host price comparison tools so consumers have instant access to current costs.”