(WWBT) - Buy a car, a computer, even groceries, you know the price before you pay the bill.
However, that's not the case with healthcare. The costs can be hard to find. So, we are pulling back the curtain on medical costs with the help of experts.
"We want to make patients know what's really going on. They have a right to know," said Jeff Rice, CEO of HealthCareBlueBook.com. It's one of a handful of online sites that help you figure out what a procedure should cost so you can find the best value.
"Patient's doctors are most often willing to help them if they'll ask the questions. It's really up to the patient to start that conversation," said Rice.
He says patients are in the dark when it comes to price and gone are the days just going "in-network" guarantees a good value. You need to shop around for care.
"If it's not an emergency, you should call and get a price estimate before you get care, and make sure that it's a fair price. You can check that out on the web to make sure you're paying a fair price," said Rice.
Here's how it works: type in your zip code and the name of the procedure you need. Healthcare Bluebook will provide you a list of all the different charges associated with that procedure in the Richmond area. It's an average of what insurance companies pay doctors or surgeons.
It's helpful now because deductibles are so high. Most of us are paying more than ever before "out-of-pocket."
That's why, if it's not an emergency, you should call for prices from two or three clinics or hospitals.
Ask, "What this will cost? What will it cost under your insurance? What is the cash price without using insurance?" Get all these answers in writing.
Besides Healthcare Blue Book, you can also find prices at www.ClearHealthCosts.com.
This site even shows you the most common price searches. Things as simple as teeth fillings, to prices for vasectomies and mammograms.
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