Categories:  'Health Care - The Effects of Lacking Coverage'  

For “Health Care Consumers,” Comparison Shopping Nearly Impossible

No law requires hospitals to reveal their prices, and in fact, many hospitals keep prices secret until they send patients the bill. While the impossibility [...]

No law requires hospitals to reveal their prices, and in fact, many hospitals keep prices secret until they send patients the bill. While the impossibility of comparison shopping affects uninsured patients most drastically, even patients with insurance struggle to find out how much they will be billed for a routine procedure.

Private insurers may claim that they will inform patients of projected out-of-pocket costs, but their websites do not carry this information, and customer service representatives on the phone cannot find it when requested.

Costs for the same procedure can vary widely between health systems and states, and only a handful of states cap costs for the uninsured.

Information about hospital and health center quality is similarly difficult to find, rendering comparison shopping a fantasy – certainly not a concrete suggestion for decreasing health care spending in the US.

Image: Therese Allison, 35, with her daughters Olivia, 4, center, and Amaya, 2. Ms. Allison, who is uninsured, had difficulty finding the price of a normal delivery. Credit: Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times

Articles

Publication Date: 08/07/2015
Source: The New York Times
Author: Gina Kolata