With healthcare consumerism on the rise, it is important for patients to have access to tools that can help them save money and make smart shopping decisions. There are a number of websites that boast efforts to improve healthcare transparency and consumerism, but which ones are helping real patients? We have taken the time to evaluate a number of healthcare consumerism websites and have found these to be the very best. No one of these websites can stand on their own as a “cure-all” for our nation’s high healthcare costs, but with these websites in a patient’s back pocket, they will have an arsenal for healthcare shopping success. (Side note, of course we are going to include ourselves at the end.)
PokitDok allows users to compare pricing for doctors appointments in an area. Patients can search by specialty, the conditions they are experiencing or even by a physician’s name. Then a patient requests prices from the providers that show up in their results. If PokitDok does not have providers listed in an area, the results show minimal information but will provide phone numbers to call for pricing. When a quote is requested, users can specify if they are paying with cash, an HSA or filing with their insurance provider, and include an offer of what they would like to pay. They can then specify priorities they have in regards to the service’s quality, cost or convenience; the physician’s quality and the patient’s condition. After a request is made, the physicians respond with their price. Patients can then pay for their appointment online.
Best Part? The ability to specify payment type and pay online.
Downfall? They could provide more information on quality of the physicians for comparison.
On GoodRx.com, people can search for the drug they need and the website returns a list of locations close to them that offer it along with their costs. GoodRx then allows shoppers to view pricing for generic versions and review dosage information. If the drug is available for purchase online, shoppers can opt to do so, otherwise they can print off a coupon and take it to their pharmacy to purchase the drug at a discounted rate. The site is easy to use and provides much more value than just price transparency. GoodRx has a pill identifier section and offers a free discount card for shoppers so that they can benefit from even more discounts.
Best Part? The site provides advice for how to handle payment if a patient’s insurance co-pay is less or more than the price listed on the coupon. If a patient is regularly ordering the same prescription, they can even sign up for price alerts for sales.
Downfall? The website cannot be used in conjunction with Federal or State funded programs.
3. Healthcare Blue Book
On Healthcare Blue Book, shoppers can find fair pricing for medical procedures and services nationwide. By entering a zip code, the results become customized to the shopper’s region. Healthcare Blue Book does a great job explaining why a procedure costs what it does and why cost variances might occur. They also provide advice on how to find fair price locations and how to negotiate prices.
Best Part? They arm their users with a printable detailed pricing agreement to help them negotiate fair prices.
Downfall? HCBB is a great learning tool but shoppers have to use it in conjunction with other shopping techniques to really get lower cost care.
DentalPlans.com shoppers can compare dental savings plans for individuals or families. A search provides a list of options highlighting each plan’s annual price, program details, a sample of savings and earliest activation date. Shoppers can select up to three plans to compare side by side at which point DentalPlans.com lists costs for different dental procedures under the plans along with the number of participating dentists in the area. Shoppers can then apply for the program of their choice online.
Best Part? This website does a great job of breaking down every benefit of each plan into layman’s terms, making the process seem less overwhelming. Shoppers can even see “usual fees” or approximate out-of-pocket costs for patients without a dental plan.
Downfall? The plans the website lists are NOT insurance plans. This isn’t necessarily a downfall, but could be confusing to some consumers.
Brighter.com serves as an alternative to dental insurance by listing discounts on dental services for uninsured patients. Shoppers select the service they need and input their zip code to view pricing at various dentists in their area with open appointment times. Patients can view Yelp reviews of the dentists, any specials the offices are running and where they stand on the overall affordability landscape.
Best Part? Shoppers can indicate the specific time they want to come in and let the office know if they will be paying for themselves or filing with their insurance.
Downfall? Currently, Brighter only serves patients in Los Angeles. However, if someone searches in another area of the country, they can see the city’s below market, average and above market costs for services like check-ups.
Simplee gives patients a way to easily pay and manage medical bills in one, very user-friendly app. By pulling a patient’s insurance information, the application is able to show what they owe to any healthcare provider. Simplee does exactly what the name suggests; it simplifies jargon-riddled medical bills into easily understood invoices, allowing patients to understand what they are actually paying for. Patients can receive alerts for bills that they owe money on, and then pay bills online with a credit card, debit card, HSA or FSA account.
Best Part? Simplee is smart; it can actually notify patients of potential errors on their bills so they can avoid unnecessary fees.
Downfall: This shopper had some difficulty linking her HSA card to the account, but that could very well have been a user-error. Other than that, there wasn’t much room for a downfall.
7. Save On Medical
If a patient needs a radiology procedure, Save On Medical is their best option for shopping around. Shoppers can search for the imaging procedure their doctor ordered and see average costs in their area and potential savings. Shoppers see the imaging centers’ prices listed and can filter their options by cost, proximity and quality grades. Patients can request appointments and pay online for the procedure once the provider confirms their appointment.
Best Part? The ability to compare providers based on price, quality and also accessibility and convenience. Additionally, patients are able to lock the pricing in online and are not charged additional fees down the line.
Downfall? The site is only beneficial to patients in need of diagnostic imaging procedures.
Have you used any of these sites? Share your experiences here or Tweet to us to tell us about any we’ve missed!