The New York Times, November 27th, 2009
CAN you really shop for doctors and hospitals the way you would for airfares and flat-screen TVs?
Health care consumers are encouraged to comparison-shop on things
like doctor’s fees and heart surgery rates. But unfortunately, most of
us have little clear or useful information to go shopping with.
you go to the doctor, how much you fork over when all is said and done
is often just a mystery,” said Dr. Anthony P. Geraci, a Manhattan
neurologist who is trying to buck that trend by posting his prices on
his Web site.
With the growing number of uninsured people, the increase in high-deductible insurance
plans and big jumps in co-payments, just about everybody is paying more
out of pocket for health care nowadays. An estimated 15 percent of
adults younger than 65 now pay with their own money medical costs
greater than 5 percent of their annual household income, according to
the Center for Studying Health System Change, a nonpartisan research group in Washington.
So the typical person is probably far more motivated to ask how much an M.R.I. or a hip replacement costs. And just as often, people are asking — or should be — “How can I get a better price?”
Katie Kyser, 30, the mother of a year-old daughter, who lives north of
Seattle. She and her husband, Jason, who works in construction,
recently moved from California. They have no health insurance, so they pay all costs out of pocket.
Ms. Kyser needed a routine gynecological exam, she called a handful of
local doctors, all of whom were charging $200 or more. “There’s no way
we could pay that,” Ms. Kyser said. “I had to find another way.”
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