The Price is Right: Stop Guessing Health Care Costs

Let’s set the scene. You’re home sick (or just playing hooky). You shuffle in your slippers out into the living room where you plop down in your fluffy robe with a big bowl of cereal with a day of lounging in front of you.  It’s that time of the morning; when there is only one suitable television program to be watching. We all know what that show is, right? The. Price. Is. Right.

Anyone growing up in the 80’s or 90’s remembers Bob Barker as the host for the legendary show, leading the “Showcase Showdown,” challenging contestants to accurately guess the prices of big-ticket items such as cars and boats. We all secretly watched the show in preparation for the day we ever got the chance to appear on “The Price Is Right.” Like Barney Stinson on “How I Met Your Mother,” you may have found yourself becoming increasingly aware of the costs of things, just in case you ever got your chance to shine.

 This got us thinking.The Price Is Right Health Care

 

Many people out there know the approximate costs of items they might never buy.  So, when it comes to expensive medical procedures, why have prices remained such a mystery to patients?

 

At Healthbox Florida’s Innovation Day at Florida Blue in Jacksonville, Florida we decided to host a little experiment. We asked attendees if they knew the average cost in Jacksonville for a gallon of gas. (The answer we were looking for was about $3.33.) Next we them, if they were aware of lower priced gasoline down the road, would that influence their purchasing decision? Most everyone said yes, even if it was only a difference of a few cents.

This begged us to then point out the differences in price for an MRI at two locations in Jacksonville ranging from $400 to $1,734.  So many patients blindly follow their physician’s instructions despite potential cost variances, but if they’re willing to make the trek further down the road to save a few cents on gas, it only makes sense that they would do the same to save over $1,000 on health costs. (Pun intended.)

Our mission has always been to help patients find affordable care, so that they don’t get stuck paying too much for their medical procedures. Now, we’ll also be focused on empowering patients to compare costs – to use the tools we’ve provided to be smart shoppers in the healthcare system.  At Save On Medical, we’re taking the guessing out of the equation by showing REAL prices for medical procedures. Around here, our prices are RIGHT. No estimates. No hidden fees. No additional charges. No more bills sent months later. Real price transparency for real people.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Breast Cancer Awareness Means Affordable Mammograms

To many people, October means the beginning of fall, football games, Halloween and prepping for the impending holiday season. Around here, October means one thing: Breast Cancer Awareness. In health care, we’re painting every town pink, spreading the word about early detection to women everywhere.

By helping women find affordable mammograms, we are helping them take control of their own breast health.  There is no time like the present, if you have been putting off getting your mammogram.  Why have you been avoiding getting your screening done? Do you not have the time? Do you think it will cost too much? Are you simply afraid of the results?  Take control of your health today and don’t let your fears get in your way.

Save On Medical providers across the country are offering discounted mammograms during the month of October so that women who are concerned about expensive screenings can get the care they deserve. Search Save On Medical and save yourself at least 50% on your mammography screening today!

Mammogram Prices

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Devil’s Advocate: The Challenges in Price Transparency

challenges in price transparencyWe’ve been yelling from the rooftops, promoting price transparency for the last three years. It has been assumed that showing patients how much their medical procedures cost will help drive down prices, improve patient consumerism and promote providers to offer affordable options. Providers across the country have jumped on board with the transparency plan, but there are a few roadblocks affecting the success of this bursting industry:

  1. Charges are not the same as prices

As consumers, we are trained to believe that when we see a price, that is all we will be charged for the product or service. In health care however, if you are able to find a price estimate for a procedure, that often does not take into account additional fees. Ex: Radiologist-reading fees at hospitals tacked on after the procedure

  1. Translating quality metrics into useful information can be subjective

Every patient is unique and rarely is one patient’s experience the same as another’s. Quality can be subjective when patients are judging a provider based on things like whether or not the nurse smiled or frowned and whether or not the patient was pleased with their diagnosis. To have true quality transparency, it needs to be clear that each provider is being compared apples to apples.

  1. Specialists and providers often bill patients separately for a procedure

Some providers are able to provide bundled payments, but when multiple specialists and providers are part of a patient’s experience they will often send multiple bills. For instance, if a patient is examining the cost of a surgical procedure they have to consider whether or not the anesthesiologist, the physician and their home health provider will charge them separately.

  1. Insurance payers have different pricing set for different care providers

Understanding what a patient in a high-deductible health plan is responsible for as far as charges versus an uninsured patient or someone electing to pay out-of-pocket really varies. On the same note, different insurance payers have varying contracted rates with care providers, so determining true costs across the bar gets confusing.

 

On SaveOnMedical.com, we list clear self-pay prices, meaning the price a patient would pay if they were electing to pay 100% out-of-pocket without insurance. More payers are looking for ways to reward their people for shopping around for lower priced options however, so we can also serve as a solution for those payers who have large populations of patients in high-deductible plans.

Transparency in health care can seem overwhelming, but we have taken steps to eliminate the roadblocks discussed above in the following ways:

  1. We include all fees in one price. This means no bills being sent to patients down the road for facility fees or interpretation fees.
  2. We have created a grading system for all of our providers in order to eliminate bias, grading providers on over 50 key points including everything from accreditations to technology to wait times to convenient parking.
  3. We have not added surgical procedures to our website (yet) but when we do, the payments will be bundled for patients. Save On Medical will then worry about divvying up payment among specialists. The simpler for the patient, the better.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Price Transparency’s Impact on Healthcare Shopping

Imagine if we shopped for our groceries the same way we shopped for healthcare procedures. We walk down an aisle at the grocery store and it’s filled with nondescript brown boxes. They’re all the same size, labeled with the things that we need like apples, bananas and lettuce; but we have no way of determining the prices or the qualities of our options.

So we fill up our grocery cart and head to the checkout counter. The cashier rings us up and we ask how much it will all cost. She responds that it will be $300 today and you’ll get a bill in the mail for the rest of the amount. You wonder out loud how much more it will cost and when the bills will stop coming but you don’t get a straight answer.

That is how we shop for healthcare.

 

With the average family spending $4800 out-of-pocket on their healthcare more patients are searching for affordable options. Can you imagine their surprise then when they find out that the prices for a procedure like an MRI can range anywhere from $400 to $4,000?

Now imagine that you are a healthcare provider.  You’re trying to bring in more patients, in a time where reimbursement cuts have really impacted your practice’s business. You want to serve the consumer-driven patient population but the road to transparency can be challenging.  When providers try to collect from self-pay patients, 70% usually goes uncollected and it cost twice as much to collect from them as it does from an insurance provider.

Save On Medical saves them the trouble of tracking down patient payments though, because on our website, patients pay online before they even have their procedure.  With the transparency market reported to grow 55% by 2016, providers are starting to jump on board.

Save On Medical is an online market place that helps patients to SHOP, COMPARE AND SAVE on their medical bills while also helping providers to ENGAGE with patients, SCHEDULE them and COLLECT payment upfront.

This dynamic has been previously unseen in the healthcare industry. There are other companies focused on improving price transparency, some focusing on online booking and scheduling and some dedicated to providing quality scores of providers. The difference between these companies and us, is that Save On Medical is able to incorporate all of the following:

  • price transparency
  • online booking
  • patient payment
  • quality scores

how to save on medical bills

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Weekend Update: Healthcare Startup Version

Tampa Florida Healthbox Startup

What have we been up to recently?

Things have been extraordinarily exciting in the world of Save On Medical as of late. We are pleased to announce that Save On Medical has been accepted into the Healthbox health tech accelerator program. In just the first week of boot camp it has become clear what a great opportunity this will be for our company.  Over the next few months we’ll be working in overdrive to improve Save On Medical for all of our users.

 

So what is Healthbox anyway?

Healthbox is a national program with accelerators running in a number of cities across the country, including our hometown, Tampa.  Silicon Valley, look out! Tampa could very well be the next hotbed for tech startups. There are 7 groundbreaking organizations as a part of our program and we are all working to transform the healthcare industry.

 

What do the minds behind Save On Medical really think about this?

Our co-founder and President, Matt Schneider commented on our involvement saying, “We are so excited about the unique partnership opportunities that will be provided to us through Healthbox. This will give us the chance to reach more patients, expand the kinds of procedures our website offers and add more providers in new cities.”

 

What makes Save On Medical worthy of such an honor?

Save On Medical’s unique approach to healthcare shopping is unlike any other company’s in our space. This is because while others are focusing on price transparency or quality grading or appointment booking or patient payment, Save On Medical is tackling all aspects of the care process.

 

What’s our goal here?

We are going to transform the way patients compare and shop for their care, making it as easy as booking a hotel online. Additionally, we are going to help care providers reach more patients and delve into the world of price and quality transparency.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment