by Katherine Restrepo
Director of Health Care Policy, John Locke Foundation
Health care prices greatly vary, even when you seek care within your insurer’s network. Money offers a few pointers on how to effectively compare options and gain more control over your health care costs:
“Imaging bills typically run two to three times higher at hospitals than at freestanding radiology centers, according to health insurer Cigna. At hospitals, says Brian Keigley, founder of price-comparison firm New Choice Health, ‘radiology is often subsidizing other service lines.’ Ask your doctor for options other than the hospital (or the MRI machine his practice owns).
“Often your primary care doctor will refer you within the same health system, says Christine Riedl of health insurer Aetna. Ask your doctor how crucial it is to see this specialist vs. another MD, and get a few additional names.”
“Hospital facilities often negotiate higher prices with insurers than standalone PT practices do, says Justin Moore of the Americas Physical Therapy Association. If your doctor suggests a therapist, find out if he or she specializes in your condition. Check on how many visits you’ll need, the cost per visit, and what you’ll owe.”