NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Consumers appear to be quite adept at comparison shopping. However, when it comes to shopping around for the best prices for medical procedures or treatments, few people who seek out the numbers find them.
According to a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 31% of participants reported seeing information in the last year that compared health insurance plans, doctors and hospitals. Fewer than 20% of those surveyed reported seeing information that compared prices for quality among health plans and providers.
Some 64% of the survey participants said that it is difficult to find the cost of medical treatments and procedures provided by doctors or hospitals, and a third of participants reported that it is “somewhat easy” to find the cost of medical treatments. However, 76% of uninsured survey participants reported that it is difficult to find cost information.
In a survey by Public Agenda, 56% of Americans have searched for prices before getting medical care. The survey also showed that about half of Americans are not aware that prices vary for the same services by different doctors.
While some price comparisons may be difficult to find, there are price comparison web sites (and even bidding ones) out there. For a cost of $25 for one medical request for bids or a monthly fee of $4.95 for a 12-month term for unlimited requests, MediBid offers patients with cash the opportunity to have doctors bid on performing a procedure or surgery. Pokitdok searches shows average cash prices paid for procedures, and Clear Health Costs provides the cash price and highest and lowest prices as well as what Medicare pays for various procedures.