Patients Want To Price-Shop For Care, But Online Tools Unreliable

Valero Doval/Ikon Images/Corbisi

Valero Doval/Ikon Images/Corbis

Kate and Scott Savett were trying to be responsible when they needed some medical care. They live about an hour north of Philadelphia with their dog, Frankie. Scott, 43, is a chemist and designs software for labs; Kate, 37, works in life insurance.

They buy their health insurance through Scott’s job, and to keep their premiums affordable, they chose a high-deductible plan. They understood from the beginning that this would mean shopping carefully when they needed care, because costs can vary a lot among doctors and hospitals.

For years the couple didn’t use their insurance much — but that all changed this year.

Kate was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in January. Doctors did a lot of tests and then follow-up tests. On top of that, Scott needed some imaging tests for a spinal issue.

Under their insurance plan, the two have to pay in full for the first $3,000 of their combined care. After that, they still have to pay 20 percent of the cost, until they reach a total of $8,000 in out-of-pocket expenses.

That experience made them want to find the best care for the best deal. But how?

They investigated, using an online cost estimator offered through their insurance company.

Kate and Scott Savett, of Allentown, PA, at an event of the Greater Delaware Valley chapter of the National MS Society, in Philadelphia, PA.i

Kate and Scott Savett, of Allentown, PA, at an event of the Greater Delaware Valley chapter of the National MS Society, in Philadelphia, PA.

Bastiaan Slabbers for NPR

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/30/453087857/patients-want-to-price-shop-for-care-but-online-tools-unreliable?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=affordablecareact

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