You’d shop around for a new roof. Why not surgery?

If your house needed a new roof, chances are you’d shop around for multiple quotes. Or seek recommendations for roofers who perform high-quality work at reasonable rates. You’d want to know what it will cost before you buy and whether you’re getting the best deal.

As health care costs continue to rise, we all have a role to play to help control them. One thing you can do is begin to view health care in a different way – it’s the product, and you are the consumer.

Repairing your body is much more complex. Have you ever considered shopping for the best quality and best price for a rotator cuff or knee replacement surgery?

As health care costs continue to rise, we all have a role to play to help control them. One thing you can do is begin to view health care in a different way – it’s the product, and you are the consumer.

Adopting a consumer mentality means always seeking value – looking for the right combination of cost and quality that meets your needs.

The health care system isn’t always easy to understand, especially when it comes to pricing. But if you ask questions, you can learn how to get better and more affordable care.

Some organizations have developed information about medical conditions and hospital quality that can help inform you about the costs of medical procedures. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Consumer tips

  • If you don’t already have one, get a primary care physician who can be your health care champion. Work with your physician to develop personal health care plans that maintain and improve your health. Focusing on preventive care and keeping yourself healthy will reduce health care costs for all.
  • Ask your doctor whether a recommended treatment or prescription drug is the most cost-effective solution. Sometimes an X-ray will do the trick instead of a more costly MRI, and generic drugs are just as effective as more expensive name brands.
  • Ask for a second opinion when you feel it’s necessary. If you’re unsure that a recommended procedure is needed, go to another doctor and ask for his or her opinion. It could save you money and time in the long run.
  • Always ask how much procedures cost, and if possible, negotiate. Hospitals and other health care providers are sometimes willing to negotiate prices based on what you can afford. Don’t be afraid to ask for a different price or whether the provider can offer different payment plans.
  • Get in touch to confirm your coverage and find out how much of the cost you’ll be responsible for before having a major procedure. And take advantage of our Web-based tools to help you compare costs for many treatments.

Resources

  • BlueAccess – Provides policy information and tools for comparing treatment costs
  • Healthcare Blue Book – Provides prices for routine medical procedures and tests
  • New Choice Health – Allows users to research costs of common medical tests by ZIP code
  • Health In Reach – Gives users discounts from local medical providers