New Website Helps Compare Prices on Health Care Procedures

There’s a lot of mystery that comes with the bill you receive after a medical procedure. Unlike other services, in which you receive a breakdown in cost of labor, materials and other expenditures, a medical bill can often seem like an arbitrary, or even random, amount.

But one new website is working to change that.

Related Post: Employers Considering Alternatives to Rising Health Care Costs, the site launched Feb. 25, “puts actual cost information in consumer’s hands” to help them become savvier shoppers. It combines information from United Healthcare, Humana, Aetna and Assurant Health on what they actually pay for dozens of medical services.

The site is funded by the Health Care Cost Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on providing clear, factual insight into health care costs so that consumers, researchers and policymakers can understand and manage costs while still keeping a high standard of care.

“The rise in health care spending underscores the need to make it more transparent and help consumers make more informed decisions regarding their care,” David Newman, executive director of HCCI, said to the Washington Post.

Currently, the site compares the costs of more than 70 common medical services, which range from a simple doctor’s visit to a complex spinal surgery. It primarily focuses on procedures that patients have the ability to shop for ahead of time, not necessarily those that come along with emergency care.

Related Post: Health Insurance Jargon Spurs Widespread Confusion

It’s a first step in demystifying medical billing in this country, as research has shown prices for the same medical service can vary drastically, even within the same city. For example in Dallas, a knee surgery can cost $16,772 at one hospital or $61,585 at another. also breaks down each procedure’s process and recommends questions for consumers to ask their doctors. It’s a helpful resource for anyone with a doctor’s appointment on the horizon.

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