Online Healthcare Pricing Comparison Site Benefits Families
We are seeing more evidence of consumers like you becoming more frugal about the health care you receive – and it’s not just because of the down economy. We battle all sorts of extreme challenges in just keeping health care affordable, from the sky-high price of medical services in general, to blizzards of confusion over out-of-network charges, insurance denials for the insured, and much more like nonsensical medical bill errors.
Now, we’ve come across an additional resource that you may want to explore and use to comparison shop for more affordable health care, before you step foot in your doctor’s office. The Health in Reach web site, a free service for consumers, allows you to browse for nearly any kind of health care, from regular family practice to specialist offices, in much the same way that you do for, say, hotels or soft goods.
How It Works
This kind of ‘match-making’ site works on this principle: doctors like to anticipate costs, as well. They can do this by compiling groups of single new patients and pricing the incoming visitors in bulk: that means that uninsured patients who need to pay out of pocket can enjoy some of the same price benefits as those whose insurance companies have an existing contractual arrangement with a provider.
Health in Reach assists to fulfill the void of “service transparency,” the idea that patients should know ahead of time what they will be paying. In a world where providers typically bill insurers first and shift costs to patients later, too many patients just don’t have any real clue about the final ‘invoice total’ that they will see in a mailed medical bill. As we often point out, this kind of ‘mystery pricing’ would never be tolerated in any other industry, and it should be part of our medical industry either. By bringing the power of the Internet to medical shopping, these third party sites are helping to change the cumbersome and often unequal relationship between patient and provider.
Need Dental Work?
One of the biggest demands for the Health in Reach site, according to the company, is from dentist offices, which often uses the site as a way to gain exposure for new business. Health in Reach estimates that 100 million Americans avoid dentists, partly because of high out of pocket pricing and a growing unwillingness on the part of employers to fund dental care for their employees. The company estimates that about 40% of all providers listed on the site are dentists, and many site users take advantage of the ability to ‘lock in’ low rates for a dental visit. This is a great example of the utility of price shopping sites. Many of the thousands of individuals who would either go without care or wait for annual ‘free dental clinics’ where they are available, can now choose a third option: seeing up-front prices for a cleaning or other visit.
This is just one of many sites we’ve come across the last few months that appears to provide a valuable service for its users. We’ll continue to keep an eye out for other resources that will surface.…