Why Shop Healthcare

By HealthPriceCompare - May 2, 2023

The availability of healthcare price, distance and quality information has empowered patients to make more informed decisions than ever before when deciding on a provider. While entrenched healthcare business interests contend that healthcare purchasing decisions are too complicated for regular consumers, the reality is different.

For obvious reasons, medical emergencies dictate that care is immediately required so making an informed healthcare purchasing decision is out of the question. But for consumers who need a truly shoppable healthcare service, such as an MRI, CT scan, colonoscopy or even urgent care, what process should be followed when a medical procedure is needed?

The Traditional Way

It would start with your prescribing physician. Say you have pain and difficulty moving your shoulder and you go see an orthopedist who will diagnose and treat your condition. The orthopedist, upon an initial in person examination will prescribe an MRI of the affected shoulder to effectively diagnose the ailment.

The patient would traditionally be provided with a five-digit code and corresponding procedure description and then be directed to a specific imaging center of the physician's choosing. Up until recently, this did not matter to the patient because health insurance plans would reimburse the provider nearly all if not the entire portion of the expenses for the patient's procedure. In this situation, price sensitivity did not exist because the insurer, not the consumer, would be paying for almost all of the procedure.

How Times Have Changed

High-deductible health plans (HDHP) now constitute the fastest growing percentage of all employer-based health insurance plans. These types of plans have steadily increased in market share from 11.4 percent in 2006 to 55.7 percent in 2021 with their use more concentrated in small businesses. Simply put, this increase in prevalence of HDHPs means more people are having to pay for a far greater portion of upfront healthcare expenses.

High-deductible health plans are defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as any plan with a deductible of at least $1,500 for an individual and $3,000 for a family. In addition to these deductible figures, yearly out-of-pocket expenses (deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance) in 2023 cannot exceed $7,500 for an individual and $15,000 for a family. All in all, patients can be responsible for a lot of upfront costs.

The Way Forward

High-deductible health plans are now the preferred employer health plan design because they limit health insurance premium growth. This means that employees will continue to be responsible for greater portions of out-of-pocket expenses.

At the same time, patients are becoming aware that they have more choices than just going where their doctor tells them to go.

By utilizing HealthPriceCompare and its medical procedure price comparison capabilities, patients can now do it the easy way and with certainty. HealthPriceCompare presents both insurance contracted and discounted cash prices for medical procedures using just three pieces of data - zip code, MRI type and insurance plan. By also presenting distance to provider and quality information, patients are fully empowered to make provider decisions with complete information.

Healthcare can be complicated but it doesn't have to be. With HealthPriceCompare, shopping for healthcare really can be simple.