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How Much Does Healthcare Cost Matter To A Patient?

How Much Does Healthcare Cost Matter To A Patient?
18 September 2015

It is common for most people to know the price before making a purchase. Similarly, patients like to know the cost of a new medication, physician visit or stay in a hospital before deciding where to go for healthcare. This is because people do not like to be surprised with a pricey bill after the treatment.

Consumer Oriented Healthcare

Consumer oriented healthcare is helping patients to choose the right doctor and hospital to plan their medical expenses, especially when they have a high-deductible health plan. With this system in place patients can control medical expenditure.  This would insure fewer surprises to patients on receipt of EOB or medical bills.

Dealing With Cost Complexity

It is essential for a medical practice to know what type of medical information patients are searching online. When patients come with questions to you, a proper response can be planned by discussing their medical problems and medical needs. So it is good to have an idea as to what patients are concerned when it comes to cost of care.

As a support system to patients, the Healthcare Financial Management Association has issued a report titled “Understanding Healthcare Prices: A Consumer Guide” with the goal of reducing cost complexity. The report has been written by hospital executives, industry experts and a panel of consumers and gives clear distinction between out-of-network and in-network provider care. It also details information sources for Medicare beneficiaries and recommendations for patients without insurance coverage.

The highlights of the report also include,

  • Questions to ask your doctor before elective surgery
  • Advice on how to get a cost estimate in advance
  • Follow-up questions to ask when a medical bill comes in higher than the estimate

Price Transparency

Price transparency works only if patients can understand the difference in where they get healthcare. However, hospitals, physicians and insurers must do their part to give clear pricing. Information about pricing becomes meaningful to patients when they can use it to compare various healthcare pricing. Commonly asked pricing questions are

  • Total price of the care
  • What is included in the estimate
  • What is not included and why

No Compromise In Quality

Although the Healthcare Financial Management Association’s report calls for price transparency, it also emphasizes that while pricing is given importance, due diligence is required in the quality of healthcare too.  Patients must recognize that quality and prices vary depending on where heath care is provided. Which means an expensive care need not necessarily mean a better care. It is always good to shop around to find the best healthcare.