Growing numbers of healthcare companies and advocates are providing more transparency on healthcare pricing. How can this benefit you?

Do you know what you’re going to pay for your healthcare procedures?

When you visit a store, you expect to see price tags on everything. This allows you to compare prices at other stores, and make your purchase without a surprise bite to your pocketbook.

Compare this to how the typical medical procedure is priced. You might be able to find an estimate on-line, or through your insurance company, but those will not tell you the specific pricing scheme of your care provider. As a result, your final medical bill can be a shock.

According to price checking tool, the direct pay cost for a CAT scan can vary from $270 a procedure to over $4,800, all depending on what region you are in and what facility you go to. Pricing in different facilities within the same city can actually vary by thousands of dollars. This shows how the ability to check healthcare “price tags” can help you save a ton of money.

A New Resource For Healthshare and High-Deductible Payers

If you are a healthshare member looking for better pricing for yourself and your fellow members, you have a new resource available. Founded in 2014, the Free Market Medical Association (FMMA) exists to connect buyers with sellers of medical services using a free-market, transparent pricing model.

Their ShopHealth search tool lets healthshare members, self-payers and those saving money with high-deductible insurance explore their member providers and compare prices. They have an educational section where you can learn more about price transparency, and a growing number of members.

Taking the Mystery out of Healthcare Pricing

How does price transparency work in practice?

  • FMMA member Upfront Health provides price transparency by focusing solely on primary care, and charging a monthly membership fee based on age. Through them, you can cover your entire family for all primary care visits for $120 a month.
  • Meanwhile, Advocate Medical Group has rolled out up-front, flat-fee pricing for an expanding list of over thirty medical procedures and tests at its 56 Walgreens-based urgent care clinics in Illinois. Through them, you can get a physical for your job for $70.
  • The Campaign for Sustainable Drug Pricing is approaching drug companies throughout the US about providing transparency in their medical drug pricing, which if successful will help you determine just how much your prescriptions will cost, and if there are less expensive alternatives.

Further Reading

If you want a closer look at organizations taking the lead in providing healthcare consumers with price transparency, here is a list of resources.
  1. Free Market Medical Association
  2. “The Tough Terrain of Transparent Pricing
    The Hill, “Healthcare coalition targets PhRMA with drug-pricing plan