Health Care Price Transparency Heroes We Love

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we will be highlighting some of the healthcare price transparency heroes that we adore. There are a lot of influential players in the world of health care price transparency who are taking brave steps to improve patient access to health costs and quality information, but these are a few of our favorites…

healthcare price transparency heroes

  1. Steven Brill – A lawyer, journalist and celebrated author; Steven Brill is most commonly known for his expose on the shocking billing practices of hospitals. Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us was a Time Magazine cover story in 2013 which sparked a national conversation about how hospital executives game the system to make a profit, making patients’ medical bills insanely inflated regardless of insurance. Brill brought the topic of price transparency to the forefront and got people talking about the issue.
  2. Rick Scott – The Florida Governor has been making headlines recently due to his price transparency push in Florida. He recently released a commercial in which he urges area hospitals to provide better upfront pricing to patients to improve transparency. Scott has also been pushing hospitals to disclose price information from health insurance groups regarding how much they pay them so patients can tell if what they are paying is fair.
  3. Herb B. Kuhn – CEO of the Missouri Hospital Association, Herb B. Kuhn, has lead the launch of a pricing website entitled Focus on Hospitals which aims to provide healthcare consumers with better quality data. The prices shared do not reflect negotiated insurance rates, but it gives Missouri patients a better idea of how much they should be paying for the most common medical procedures.
  4. Philip Betbeze – We’ve been following Betbeze’s articles on HealthLeaders Media for a while now and he never shies away from writing about hot button issues related to consumerism in healthcare and price transparency. With his main audience being made up of healthcare industry decision-makers and physicians; he wields the opportunity to get in front of the industry leaders who can exact change. Talk about the pen being mightier than the sword, using price transparency to lower health costs for patients.
  5. Sarah Kliff – Another one of our favorite healthcare writers, Kliff is a senior editor at Vox.com where she overs health, medicine and education. She has lead discussions on pricing in pharmaceuticals, the Affordable Care Act’s future and the impact on the single-payer health care system. Her articles are always thought-provoking and eye-opening, but she’s also one of our favorites on Twitter. She provides great stats and articles and she’s pretty funny, too.
  6. Suzanne Delbanco, PhD – Delbanco is the Executive Director of the Catalyst for Payment Reform which is a National Non-Profit Organization dedicated to improving the way Americans pay for their health care. Their goal is to improve quality and price transparency, which they gained national recognition for when they released a scathing report card calling out most states on their lack of transparency. Spearhead by Delbanco, CPR has impacted many to inquire about the lack of transparency at their state level.

 

Shout out to all those out there working to improve price and quality transparency in the U.S. If you know of any others who are making an impact in the world of health care consumerism, we want to know about them! Feel free to tweet to us @saveonmedical with #HealthHeroes to tell us about other influencers.

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Stages of Grief of Paying Medical Bills

medical bills

Getting medical bills in the mail is always scary, no matter what. You find yourself wondering what in the world this doctor could still have to charge you for, after it seems like you’ve already paid and arm and a leg. (Pun intended.) If you are experiencing stages of grief while reading medical bills… you aren’t alone. It begins as you’re leaving the hospital, after spending an hour getting an MRI.

1. You’re already annoyed that you just spent your lunch hour in a tube, lying perfectly still to the sounds of what can only be described as MRI Techno Tunes. Or would that be considered dub step?

2. You think of all the things you could buy with that $60 co-pay you paid. What even is a co-pay anyway?

3. You bitterly realize you’ll need to eat Ramen noodles this week for dinner if you want to also fill up your gas tank.

4. You drive home feeling sad and a little taken advantage of, so you call your mom to complain about high health costs… you know… like an adult.

Fast-forward three months….

5. You check your mail hoping for a card from your grandma or at least a catalogue to flip through.

6. Nope, instead you’re gifted with an ominous looking letter from your area hospital.

7. Look at this really nice quality envelope… I bet if they cut costs on printing they wouldn’t have to charge so much.

8. You hesitantly open the envelope, hoping it’s a “Thank You” letter for choosing them for your MRI.

9. Incorrect, it is a bill.

10. Didn’t I already pay for this? WAIT… AM I PAYING FOR THIS PAPER?

11. Choke on your own breath while your dog looks at you concerned.

12. $1,300 dollars?!

13. You have to live on the streets.

14. You have to sell your car. high health costs

15. Why do you even have insurance?

16. This cannot possibly be correct.

17. This bill must have been meant for someone else; some other person by the same name as you with the same Social Security number and address.

18. Anger sets in. You’re blinded by rage.

19. Didn’t I read something about how price transparency helps lower health costs?

20. Who can you call to complain to about this?

21. Ghostbusters seems like the obvious choice, but ultimately ineffective.

22. AH-HA! You have found an 800 number to call.

23. You feel sorry for the wrath that is about to be unleashed on this poor unsuspecting victim.

24. Wait; are you not calling the hospital? What is this company you’ve never heard of?

25. “How many buttons do I have to press to talk to a human?”

26. Success!  You have trudged through the robot phone tree to speak with an actual live being.

27. Next time I’m just going to WebMD myself and call it a day.

28. Who is this foreign person you’re speaking with? “Did I not Press 1 for English?”

29. Why would your hospital hire a billing company that is not based in America?

30. “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE SAYING.”

31. You finally learn that your insurance company only covered part of the cost for your MRI and THIS heartbreaking bill is what you’re now responsible for paying.

32. Your knee doesn’t even hurt anymore… but your wallet does.

33. There is a good chance you’re going to have a heart attack right now.

34. You’ll probably need another MRI if you do actually go into cardiac arrest though.

35. Couldn’t there have been a cheaper way for all of this to go down?

36. Oh wait, you could have saved 50% if you had just paid out-of-pocket and booked your MRI through Save On Medical?

37. “Now you tell me.”

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Diagnosing Yourself: To WebMD Or Not To WebMD

diagnosing yourself: to webmd or not to webmd

We’ve all been there before. You come down with some pretty basic symptoms…you’ve had frequent headaches the past couple of days, a decently stuffed up nose, and for whatever reason your gums are killing you. You do what every curious, masochistic human being would do and head to the internet for some good old WebMD-ing. An hour later you’re arranging the details for your funeral, because in your first ten minutes of browsing you’ve discovered that you’re likely battling mouth cancer, an abscessed tooth or gum, a brain tumor, or some other disgusting yet terrifying disease you’ve never heard of before. In reality, it turns out you’ve just got a sinus infection.

It’s a classic case of Webi’MDying, and if you’re a regular WebMD user then you’re probably shocked that you’ve made it this long and are still alive and kicking. The reality of the situation is that although online symptom-checker sites like WebMD can definitely provide us with helpful information about symptoms, treatments, and causes, there are definitely some times when they shouldn’t be your go-to for medical advice.

You may want to WebMD if…

  • You’re a naturally curious individual
  • You’re fascinated by the human body and find disease/death/injury interesting
  • You don’t think there’s anything seriously wrong with you and you’re just looking for some comedic relief
  • You want to freak out your parents and get the day off from school

You probably shouldn’t WebMD if…

  • You’re prone to paranoia
  • You find the human body generally disgusting and don’t actually want to know all of the different medical disasters that could strike you at any given point in time
  • You think there’s something seriously wrong with you that needs immediate attention
  • Your potential diagnosis is likely a broken bone or torn muscle/ligament

All jokes aside, it can be fun to browse around on WebMD sometimes, and there are definitely times when you’ll end up legitimately finding an answer on there about the symptoms you’ve been experiencing. At the end of the day, though, if you suspect that there’s something seriously wrong with you or that you’ll need medical attention from a real live human being, it’s usually better to bypass online symptom-checker sites like WebMD and go straight to the source. Doctors put a lot of years into becoming medical professionals, and we’ve found from personal experience that they usually know their stuff!

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5 Ways Price Transparency Is Lowering Health Costs for Patients

price transparency lowering health costs

As health care costs climb, many patients, physicians and healthcare business professionals have started to wonder about the impact of price transparency. Has improved access to the costs of care helped lower health costs for patients or has it actually contributed to higher medical costs? This important question has had Americans guessing, as it wasn’t something we could determine over night, but since 2012 we have seen first-hand, the impact price transparency is having on the lives of patients.

Read More: The Evolution of Price Transparency

 

How Price Transparency Lowers Health Costs for Patients:

  1. As more providers adopt healthcare price transparency and agree to post the prices of their services online, it creates more competition in the market, which leads to lower costs. Other providers start to feel the pressure from consumer-driven patients who have come to expect full prices to be listed, so they are forced to bill globally. This means radiology providers will bundle the technical component and professional component so patients don’t get additional bills later in the mail.
  2. When patients can compare costs, it gives them the opportunity to choose a less expensive provider. When patients can choose to skip over an imaging center that offers an MRI for $750 and choose a radiology provider who lists their MRI for $400, it makes a huge difference in their annual health costs.
  3. As patients become more active price shoppers, it inspires them to inquire about the level of quality they will get from each provider. With more competition in the marketplace, providers are feeling the pressure to provide more high-quality care at lower costs.
  4. Patients can use price transparency to their advantage when they are negotiating deals with medical billing companies. US News provided a resource for Americans experiencing medical debt, giving them tips for how to negotiate their bills down. The article said that having an idea of how much procedures cost at various locations, will give patients a stronger leg to stand on when negotiating hospital bills.
  5. Price transparency helps patients feel empowered to explore their options, leading even insured patients to sometimes pay out of pocket for their procedures. Learn why insured patients often pay cash for medical procedures to help lower their annual costs.

 

By the year 2020, it’s expected that total patient collections for healthcare procedures will total over $1 Trillion, so it looks like consumer-driven patients aren’t going away. Providers will continue to evolve and adopt price and quality transparency in healthcare, which we believe will lower individual costs. We may see higher spending in the health industry, but it will likely be due to patients who would have previously gone without the care they needed, finally having the ability to pay for medical care.

Read More: Reasons patients who can’t afford medical care go without the procedures they need…

default costs of patients who don't pay for medical procedures


households with deductibles exceeding liquid assets

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Twitter Users Complain About Health Costs

mean tweets

We wanted to know how high health costs are affecting patients and knowing how many patients have chosen to go without the care they need due to cost, we weren’t surprised by the response. We took to Twitter to see how many Americans had voiced their complaints about high costs and were shocked by how many patients out there didn’t know that price transparency could have helped them find more affordable options. We saw some shocking tweets, from those afraid of getting their first MRI to those who complained about racking up astronomical medical bills. We’ve made it our mission to be a resource for patients, using our website to help them find affordable, yet high quality care in the U.S.  What better way to expand our reach and be of better use to our patients than to be there for them on Twitter?

We went on and looked for users who were airing their (completely legitimate) complaints about MRI costs, CT scan costs and medical bills in general, to share ways to help them save some money on the next go around. The tweets below are just a few of the individuals who are being affected by these high cost procedures.

Just imagine, these are only a few posts we found. How many more patients are experiencing these challenges and aren’t even taking to Twitter to air their grievances?

https://twitter.com/RealDhav/status/587739959764717568

 

Our goal is to spread the word to patients across the country and let them know that they don’t have to avoid getting an MRI or any medical procedure that they need, just because they don’t think they can afford it.  By using a website like Save On Medical, patients can save over $1,000 or more on their medical bills. You wouldn’t just buy the first car you looked at, would you? No. You’d shop around, compare prices at different dealerships and purchase the car that was the best deal. Your health care procedures are just as important, so don’t be afraid to do your homework!

 Join us on Twitter and follow us at @SaveOnMedical

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