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Monday, October 18, 2010

HealthCare shopping--Venting

Today I worked with a client who wanted help finding out about surgery options, MRI costs, etc for her knee. Cost is always a factor in making health care decisions, especially with costly exams such as MRI's. Even with insurance, there are co-pays and deductibles to consider. To help her through the muddy waters of medical decision making, I called Anchorage Fracture and Orthopedic Clinic to find out what an MRI cost-$1534 for an MRI of the knee. Plain and Simple. Nothing sneaky.

Then I called Providence Kodiak to see what the cost is for a knee MRI. I was transferred from the front desk, to radiology, then to the answering machine of someone in quality control department. I didn't leave a message. I got the feeling they really don't want to answer questions like that.

This was the exact reason I opened up my clinic. To provide honest, care at a pre-disclosed price. People don't need to play games to find out the pre-determined cost of a procedure. Finding good healthcare is already challenging without having to play 'procedure-cost-sleuth'.

Why couldn't someone in the radiolgoy department let me know how much a knee MRI is? The Anchorage Fracture Orthopedic Clinic knew instantly what that would cost. They were staring at the price list with me on the phone. I have heard this complaint from many clients about finding out cost of procedures at the hospital before the fact--it is very hard to find actual cost. Todays experience verified this for me.

I've been fairly "tame" about my big business complaints on my blog, but this one I couldn't resist. It is poor care. When we go to a restaurant, there are prices on the menu. If we got to buy a car, and ask the price, we are told the prices. Why aren't there prices for certain procedures on the hospital billing sheet available for people to see when they are deciding what procedures they can or can't afford?

At least I can go to bed at night feeling good about providing good care at a reasonable price and being completely upfront about what my services cost.


1 comment:

Marnie said...

I have asked Providence about costs before, and the answer I get is "it depends". So not only do they not disclose prices, but people who pay out of pocket pay more, while insurance companies often get a minor reduction.
I got one bill lately that I have to pay because the insurance company declared that the hospital was charging too much, even after a 15% discount!