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Home Guides Doctor Fees How to buy your health care

How to buy your health care

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Even if you have the best insurance in the world, you need to be conscious of price when you purchase health care services.  The price will affect your deductible and your out of pocket expense.

There are a few important rules to follow:

Shop around.

Don't be afraid to ask the price and to shop around for a better price.  You may find that you can negotiate in advance.  Many hospitals and doctors offices are not used to patients asking about prices and may not be prepared but you should be persistent and insist on a firm quote.  They may also hedge by saying that they can't predict the price since everyone is different.  Do not accept these prevarications!  Almost all medical care is well defined and the cost can be predicted.  There are commonly used coding systems for medical billing (HCPCS and CPT procedure codes) that have exact values.  If your are told you need a service, get the procedure code(s).  You can look these up (see our resources section) to find out what a reasonable charge for the service should be in advance.

Get a firm quote in advance

It is best to get a quote in writing and make sure that it is not an "estimate".  Often hospitals and doctors will give an estimate that allows them to add charges.  It is very difficult to get them to explain or modify these extra charges after the service.  You should receive an exact quote for the cost of a service without any conditions which would permit them to bill for extras.