Patients Not Shopping Smart for Health Care

A recent research piece in JAMA surveyed 2,000 insured adults about what factors they considered when making their healthcare choices. Half of the respondents had high-deductible plans, which allow patients to shop around more for care. Even though they had the ability to shop with their own money, they stated that having price information available and having better ways to make information easier to use is needed. When people have the ability to shop around for the best deal, they aren’t doing so. Only 10% of those surveyed considered other doctors and 4% compared costs. More than half of those with high-deductible plans said they would use additional sources of pricing information if they were available.

Almost 25% of patients with employer health plans had high-deductible plans in 2015. Having such plans do not directly correspond with more comparison shopping or more efficient use of health services. Employees whose employer switched to high deductibles did not shop around for better prices, but instead used less health care services – both excess and necessary ones.

Patients continue to find comparison shopping difficult, wishing the health industry would make price information more available. To encourage shopping for affordable health care, it must be made more convenient, as well as having more tools.

With a medical procedure, there are often separate fees including surgeon, anesthesiologist, and facility fee. The bundling of several services sometimes, but not always, makes it harder to price shop. On MediBid, many physicians do include all of these fees in the procedure bids they offer. These all-inclusive bids run hundreds to thousands less than using insurance or chargemaster pricing.
Luthra, Shefali. “Even With ‘Skin In The Game,’ Health Care Shoppers Are Not More Savvy.” News. Kaiser Health News, 19 Jan 2016. Web. 24 Jan 2016.

One response

I have done the shopping thing and have found a low cost specialist. This year is the first for some time being on a high deductible insurance. Now my actual out-of-pocket with the specialist is 30% is more than if I paid cash with no insurance.

Another scenario that played out several years ago after the birth of one of my children was after I paid cash for delivery which greatly reduced the bill, the Share group was nice enough to send paperwork to the provider to show that it was paid for (I paid cash, they did not need to do that). Anyway, the provider then tried to charge me 2.5x what it cost if paid by cash. It took me 6 months to convince them that I was not covered by insurance.

I would be happy to pay cash to get a better cost but it seems the providers jack up the price just because of insurance. A little, I understand, because of all the paperwork but is there any way to pay cash and get the cash rate until the deductible is achieved? I would be happy to fill out paperwork for insurance.

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