Consumer-Driven Patient Do Their Homework

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Patients often complain about high healthcare costs but do not even know that price shopping for healthcare services is possible.  A recent article that was published in the Wall Street Journal, discussed two employers giving their employees different healthcare plan options, following trends for healthcare consumerism.  The companies found that most employees went for the lower-priced plans, which required them to pay more out of pocket for necessary procedures.

In an article in Forbes, the writer wrote about direct healthcare providers, which is a new way of receiving your primary care.  Access HealthCare in North Carolina has adopted this new system.  They charge for an annual comprehensive preventative-screening physical exam, and after patients pay for it, all of their provider visits and most lab work only costs $20.  This new concept of care delivery is slowly becoming more and more popular around the country.

Patients have many options to help offset those out-of-pocket medical expenses.  There are a ton of insurance comparison websites like ehealthinsurance.com and healthcompare.  Some Urgent Care centers show pricing online and of course there is sometimes free clinics, which can be found through the National Association of Free Clinics.

Consumer-driven patients

Some of the largest out-of-pocket expenses patients will see are typically for radiology procedures.  A good resource for patients to find low cost radiology options is Save On Medical, which acts as a hotels.com for radiology procedures.  Patients can save hundreds of dollars by using this site, whether they are insured or uninsured.  The typical price of an MRI on Save On Medical is around $400, whereas at a large hospital owned system can run over $1000.

There are also, quite a few options for dental care, which can be a largely self pay industry.  Sites like DentalWorks and Gentle Dental, which have a variety of locations throughout the country that offer specials and special financing are valuable resources.  1Dental offers patients the option to get lower cost dental insurance with plans as low as $75/month. CareCredit, which is a credit card program used specifically for healthcare needs offers special financing options and can be used for most medical needs.

If a patient is searching for affordable primary care physicians, they can search through ZocDoc, and specify insurance information or if they will be paying out of pocket for more specific tailored results.  However, there is no website for primary care that offers pricing information up front like Save On Medical does for radiology.

With more healthcare options on the horizon, healthcare consumerism has been booming.  More and more people are doing their research to find the best prices.  In a Huffington Post article, one of the writers even found that if you have a high deductible healthcare plan that it might be cheaper for you to pay out of pocket for certain procedures.

So, do your homework!  Find out the best prices and the best options for your care.  Take control of your care, be a real patient-consumer.