Health Care Cost Comparison Shopping

Do you like to comparison shop? Do you want to know if the price you are being quoted for a service is reasonable under the circumstances? I do, and that also applies to health care costs. This is a particular concern when I want or need a healthcare service that is not covered by insurance or I have not met my deductible.

Is the Price of that Medical Test Reasonable?

Thus, sooner or later someone was bound to develop a resource that allows a consumer to obtain objective information about typical or reasonable costs for standard medical tests and procedures. There is a brand new online resource that claims to provide that information. It’s called Health Care Bluebook. I am guessing that this is a take-off on the well know Kelly Blue Book new and used car pricing guides.

I just learned about this site today. It was developed by some experienced professionals in my area who are veterans of the for-profit healthcare industry. This is how they describe their service:

The Healthcare Blue Book is a free consumer guide to help you determine fair prices in your area for healthcare services. If you pay for your own healthcare, have a high deductible or need a service your insurance does not fully cover, we can help. The Blue Book will help you find fair prices for surgery, hospital stays, doctor visits, medical tests and much more.

The user interface is simple and easy to use. For example, if you want a standard PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) lab test that can indicate the presence of prostate cancer, you drill down through the “Labs” tab and after several clicks are presented with this result:

Direct-to-Consumer Lab Tests
Test or Service: Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA)
Price: $44
Quick Order Link: Order this test from a private lab in your area.
Details: Direct to consumer pricing is for lab testing performed by a national lab testing company without a physician visit required. Lab specimens are taken at convenient collection centers near consumer’s home or work. The lab testing company typically has a physician review the order and results, as is necessary, and this is included in the price.
Physician Office or Hospital Lab Tests
Test or Service: Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA)
Price: $22
Details: The price represents a fair price for a lab test performed when the patient is receiving other services from a physician. This price does not include the physician office visit price which may range from $25 to $100.

You can then link to a provider of this lab service, which I suppose is how this site makes its money, through referral fees.

It’s hard to say right now if this site is 100% objective but even if it is not, it still makes it easy to compare its pricing cost information from other healthcare providers.

Check it out for yourself and see what you think.

Also, my writing appeared this week in the Carnival of Pecuniary Delights and the Carnival of Personal Finance. These carnivals are always worth a look.


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