Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ever Shopped Around for a Good Price on an Office Visit? Perhaps Soon You May

Most of us rarely make a purchase without having some idea, in advance, of what the price is. But one obvious exception is medical care.

Have you ever shopped around for a good price on an office visit to a doctor? Or compared prices for your annual physical exam? I'm guessing that you haven't -- and if you have, I'd love to hear from you.

Even when medical care is not an emergency, most of us rarely give any thought to what the price is. And, for most of us, the reason is that someone else--our insurer--is picking up most or all of the tab. So regardless of what the actual amount of money is that the care giver will receive, we consider only the actual marginal cost we face.

For example, in my insurance group my out-of-pocket expense for an office visit is a mere 15 bucks. As a result, the only decision I make is whether or not it's worth $15 to me to go to the doctor. In fact, I have no idea what my doctor is actually charging when I see her!

Well, that may be changing. Today the Michigan Business Review reports that some health providers are beginning to make price information available to all.

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