A common mindset within the medical community is that American patients are not very skilled consumers of health care and assume high prices mean high quality, but a recent study proves that may not be true.
Tests like MRIs show some of the widest price variation in American medicine, often varying by a factor of 10 even within the same city.
WellPoint insurance members who scheduled an appointment for an elective MRI were given a list of other scanners in their area that could do the test at a lower price. The alternative providers were vetted for quality, and patients were asked if they wanted help rescheduling the test somewhere that delivered “better value.”
Fifteen percent of patients agreed to change their test to a less costly center, according to the study published in the journal Health Affairs.
The program resulted in a $220 cost reduction per test over the course of two years, reducing the price variation between hospital and nonhospital facilities by 30 percent in areas where it was implemented, according to the study.
The exercise in price transparency forced hospitals in areas with the program to lower their prices because “they were beginning to lose patient referrals.” Read the full details here:
A great study confirms what we intuitively knew – shopping around can help lower your health care costs.
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