Shopping comes to health care: More hospitals post prices, negotiate costs

NOW THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!  If McDonald’s can determine the cost of a burger, a hospital should be able to determine the cost of a surgery.  Certainly, things can change – their can always be something that happens on the operating table, but for a standard procedure, pricing shouldn’t be a game of smoke and mirrors.

If you have tried calling around and can’t get a reasonable price, or can’t get a price quote period, post your request on MediBid.com.  If you don’t receive any Bids, you don’t pay a dime, so you have nothing to lose, and thousands to save!!

The Cost of Medical Care - How Much is a total Knee Replacement?
What People Are Paying

BY PATRICIA ANSTETT
DETROIT FREE PRESS MEDICAL WRITER

Kimberly Kardasz never shopped around for the price of a health care service until her husband’s employer, General Motors, placed him into an insurance plan that makes them pay $3,000 out of pocket before their coverage kicks in.

So last year, when she needed a diagnostic test, she decided to ask a few questions before the bills arrived.

By talking to pricing specialists in the Henry Ford Health System, Kardasz, 36, a Troy mother of three, found out exactly what the test would cost. She also was able to negotiate for the lower price she would have gotten as a Blue Cross customer. “It was kind of complicated and it took time, but it was worth it,” she said.

As out-of-pocket costs for health care increase, some of the most significant changes in decades are coming to hospitals to meet the demand for price information.

Three Michigan hospital systems — Ford, Dearborn’s Oakwood Healthcare and Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids — post average prices for common tests and procedures, from X-rays to back surgery. Ford and Oakwood have expanded financial counseling programs and give their best discounts to uninsured customers, as do a growing number of other hospitals.

The Ford system gets 2,000 visitors a day searching its recently enhanced pricing site. Ford also has expanded its use of pricing specialists and financial counselors to help uninsured people get health insurance or find other ways to pay bills.

Patients find help with medical costs

Louy Elias faced a diagnosis of leukemia last year not knowing how he would pay for the care.

Financial counselors at Henry Ford Hospital helped him get Medicaid, which will pay for the bone marrow transplant he needs now because his cancer returned. “I won’t have to worry about the payment while I’m doing all that,” said Elias, 24, who hopes to return to college. He lives with his parents in Farmington Hills.

In some of the most significant changes in decades, hospital systems are beginning to post their prices publicly and offer a range of help, including big discounts to uninsured and underinsured people with limited household incomes.

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