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Consumers beware: Health care costs all over the map
May 31st, 2012
08:46 AM ET

Consumers beware: Health care costs all over the map

What you pay for medical procedures can vary drastically from city to city, hospital to hospital, even doctor to doctor - and there's not a whole lot you can do about it, according to a new report in Consumer Reports magazine.

Nancy Metcalf, the magazine's senior program editor and author of the article, says she was stunned by some of the numbers.

"What we found was there's no such thing as a price for a health care service. Prices are all over the map and vary depending on where you have the service, and it's much more likely to be more expensive if you have it in a hospital versus a doctor's office.  The most consumer unfriendly thing is that it's often impossible to find out what the service will cost ahead of time."

That makes it difficult, Metcalf says, for consumers to be smart health care shoppers when they don't to know how much services cost, and insurance companies often don't share negotiated prices for lots of things.

"It's like a trade secret.  If you are a provider you may not want consumers to know you're more expensive than the provider down the street," Metcalf said. "If you're an insurance company you don't want providers knowing what deals you made with other providers.  They have really held this information very close to the vest.  The market negotiation has nothing to do with patients; it's a negotiation between providers and insurance companies."

Metcalf checked prices on member websites of some of the largest insurance companies in the country: United Healthcare, AETNA, Cigna and Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans.  She says she was shocked by how much prices varied for services–even within one health plan.  She found staying within your plan's network is no guarantee you'll save money.

"It's not so much that it guarantees you lower prices, it guarantees you are not going to have to pay anything extra beyond what your plan says you have to pay–like co-pays.  If you go out of network, all bets are off.  This is an area that blindsides consumers, they don't understand it and they can end up with unbelievable bills."

The most common types of managed care plans are health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and preferred provider organizations (PPOs).  If you have a PPO and use the services of providers in your network, you're usually better off, because network providers accept the plan's negotiated price as payment in full.

According to this new report, if a PPO says it will pay 60% to 70% of the allowable amount for out of network providers, that does not mean they will pay 60%  to 70% of what that provider charges.  It's actually a fixed percentage of whatever the insurer decides is reasonable, and that price is usually much less than what you are charged.  That can leave patient on the hook for a large balance due.

"Customer satisfaction is a bit higher for HMOs. On average, HMOs do a better job and have at least as many satisfied customers as PPOs do," Metcalf says. "Because you can't go out of network, very rarely are you blindsided by weird bills."

Just how big the range of costs for the same procedure can be is stunning, according to Consumer Reports.  They say Healthcare BlueBook, a company that tracks what large group health plans pay, found that in one Midwestern city, members in health care plans paid anywhere from $840 at a doctor's office to $4,481 at a medical center for a colonoscopy.

In Hartford, CT, the negotiated "network" price for a regular birth at one hospital was $5,249, but cost $8,941 at a hospital a few miles away.  And following an emergency room visit to a hospital in her network, a woman from  San Jose, California, was charged $9,000 for a computerized tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan produces images of the bones and soft tissue inside your body from different angles. She later found that an imaging center near her home offered the same type of scan for $318.

Other things to watch out for: What Metcalf calls "stealth" out of network charges.  She found that while the hospital you go to may be in your network, some of the health care professionals inside that hospital who treat you, like radiologists, orthopedists or anesthesiologists, may not. "The doctor can come after you, and it may be a lot more than the insurance company is willing to reimburse you."

So how can you avoid some of these traps?  Make sure you understand your health plan. Know the rules and cost-sharing features. If possible, stay in-network; the negotiated prices are all you pay for, so no surprises.  Some plans post price information online, so look up and compare prices, and find doctors that are a little bit less expensive.

"Don't make the mistake of thinking that the more expensive providers are somehow better," Metcalf says, "Because that's been looked at and they are not. They just are better bargainers."

Robert Zirkelbach is Vice President of strategic communications at America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the national trade organization represents the insurance industry. He actually agrees with that sentiment: "Higher prices do not necessarily mean higher quality care for patients."

Zirkelbach said there needs to be a much greater focus on the underlying cost of medical care.

"The health care reform debate discussion focused almost entirely on the premiums, and largely ignored the high prices that are being charged for medical services," Zirkelbach said. "We need to shine a spotlight on these prices so that we can have a discussion on how best to address this issue.  There is a lot of data showing that increasing provider consolidation has resulted in significantly higher prices for services."

So if you think an out-of-network bill is outrageous, fight it.  You can also try to negotiate the price with an out-of-network doctor in advance.  Do your homework–especially if you're facing a complicated procedure with doctor that's not in your network.  You can go online to HealthCareBook.com or FairHealthConsumer.org and find out what the billing codes are for specific surgeries.

"None of this is easy, said Metcalf. "And it's kind of infuriating that consumers have to jump through these hoops, but that's the way we've decided that our health care system is."


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soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. Mark Glicker

    Not always to comparison shop when you are ill.

    May 31, 2012 at 09:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kiliclika

      It's not just when you're sick. My company has exactly one health care benefits package. I either accept that, or have no insurance. it's a mistake to suggest that people can "shop around" for health care benefits like they can for potatoes. Most of us covered by our workplace have no or very few options. Let's stop pretending it's a consumer "choice" issue.

      May 31, 2012 at 14:05 | Report abuse |
  2. JON

    It sounds like an opportunity for a clearinghouse type web site where people can enter the amounts they are charged and then an IPhone App can route people to the best deal.

    May 31, 2012 at 10:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • debbie

      Brilliant idea, but good luck with that...........

      May 31, 2012 at 10:44 | Report abuse |
  3. levi

    Healthcare is big business run wild. I was hoping the ACA would help this out, but the industry is fighting it tooth and nail!

    May 31, 2012 at 10:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      Huh? The industry isn't really against. They're against parts of it, but they mostly support it. It doesn't really hurt them that much, and it gives them a ton of new customers. The bill hurts doctors more than insurance companies.

      May 31, 2012 at 11:36 | Report abuse |
  4. MannyHM

    If you have a chance, read "The Healing of America" by T.R. Ried. It was mentioned in there that here in the U.S. there's one thing that is present in the U.S. health care system that's absent in other developed countries – Shareholders !

    May 31, 2012 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Steve- Illinois

    What a historic bill we passed!!! The Affordable Health Care Act completely ignores the cost of health care, and instead vilifies the insurance companies, and screws with everyone's health insurance with one mandate after another.

    Pure genius!!!

    Pelosi, Reiid, Obama, the new 3 stooges!

    May 31, 2012 at 10:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Seriously?

      Do you Koch Shills get paid well to post this garbage?

      May 31, 2012 at 10:32 | Report abuse |
    • Hahahahahahahahaha

      As opposed to the republican solution which was....................Eliminate Medicare and Social Security!!!!!! Hahahahahahahahaha

      May 31, 2012 at 10:33 | Report abuse |
    • Chuck in Jasper, Ga.

      You like a lot of people have not even read the Affordable Health Care Act. If you had, you would not make the posting you just posted. The Affordable Health Care Act does in fact address the issue of "standardizing" the price of treatment and prescription drugs. You do not know what you are talking about.

      May 31, 2012 at 11:14 | Report abuse |
    • luvtheUSA

      My medical insurance went up 20% Thanks Obamacare!

      May 31, 2012 at 11:14 | Report abuse |
    • wendy

      I have only one comment. After having many health issues in the last few years and then being diagnosed with Lupus....
      I can only say one thing...I am so glad I live in Canada!

      May 31, 2012 at 11:17 | Report abuse |
  6. Timmy Suckle

    I kissed my way up to VP at a health insurance company. Now I take over $500,000 of your health care dollars for NO VALUE ADDED to your health care. And that’s just me. Now think about how many other VPs, Assistant VPs, Directors, Managers, etc. are at my company alone. Now multiply that by thousands of others at hundreds of other health insurance companies. From 10 to 25% of your health care dollars go towards administration that adds NO VALUE to your health care. But my company’s PAC dollars will continue to fool you little people into thinking that a single payer system will be bad. Little people like you are so easy to fool. Little people also don’t realize that a single payer system is the ONLY system that would allow little people (as an entire country) to negotiate better health care prices. Little people don’t realize that the Medical Cartels already know that. And that is the reason why the Medical Cartels spend so much PAC money from the hospitals and doctors lobbying against a single payer system. Some little people say that a single payer system would cost you little people more. But if that were true, then wouldn’t the hospitals and doctors WANT that extra money? Yes they would. So why do the Medical Cartels lobby against a single payer system? It’s because the Medical Cartels know it would allow little people to negotiate better health care prices. And that’s what the Medical Cartels are afraid of. Period.
    But us big wigs at insurance companies, hospitals, and pharmacy companies don’t ever need to worry about health care no matter what it costs. We get our health care paid for one way or another by you little people. And we get the little people that work at our companies to contribute to our PACs. And us big wigs say it’s to protect the little peoples’ jobs. But in reality it would be in the little peoples’ best interest to NOT contribute to the PAC. Again, little people are so easy to be fooled. I won’t ever have to worry about losing my job with so many little people being brain washed by the Medical Cartels’ PAC money. Not only that, the Medical Cartels’ PAC money is used to elect so many republicans that will never allow a single payer system. Republicans have always fought against any meaningful health care reform. But that’s what our Medical Cartels’ PACs pay them for. Politicians can be bought so easily.
    Pretty soon the only people that will be able to afford health care is us big wigs. And that’s the way it should be. We don’t want you little people using up the resources when we need them. And once again, I thank you little people for capping my SS tax at the $106,800 level. Now I only pay 1.3% SS tax and you little people pay 6.2%. Also, thank you for extending my tax breaks. I’m using the extra money on my vacation houses.

    May 31, 2012 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • YeahYou

      You mention the term "little people" quite a bit. I suspect you have a midget fetish.

      May 31, 2012 at 10:43 | Report abuse |
    • What Now

      Sadly, you are right. We are easily distracted and manipulated by non-issues and misinformation. The real issues of our time are disguised by talk of gays, abortion, and the Presidents birth certificate. Really, how do any of those topics direct our daily lives?

      May 31, 2012 at 10:48 | Report abuse |
    • Bumpa Wumpa

      Well said...now see if anyone takes this in......don't think so.

      May 31, 2012 at 10:50 | Report abuse |
    • yvp

      Yeah obama care got to go
      my health insurance is up cuz im paying for the uninsured

      May 31, 2012 at 10:52 | Report abuse |
    • David

      Nice fantasy you have...now get back to stocking the shelves...the beans are getting low.

      May 31, 2012 at 10:54 | Report abuse |
  7. Triple A

    What a shocker! Another Government run program on it's way to being bankrupt. lol Way to go BHO!!

    May 31, 2012 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • PaulC

      What is your alternative? Give us your non-government plan that will give us health care at an affordable price.

      May 31, 2012 at 11:29 | Report abuse |
    • Hahahahahahahaha

      What a shocker!!!!!!!! Another idiot with no solution!!!!!!!!!!!

      May 31, 2012 at 15:41 | Report abuse |
  8. trublue

    @ the dumb-mass in Amercia, We let people abuse the Health care system for years. this administration is trying to fix something that is way over due. here in Texas the uninsured is costing us big money. They can go sit in the free clinics for hours at a time because they have the time to do so. if you mandate it they will pay their fair share do the math if you have 2.5 uninsured at 700.00 dollars a year whats that. Not only that it's a tracking system of who and what is getting in the USA.

    May 31, 2012 at 10:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Steve- Illinois

    I live in Canada under government provided health care. The taxes here skyrocketed once this was established costing me more than I paid for private insurance. Now I wait months to get into a doctor for routine medical procedures, or check ups. Want something done, or checked quickly? Drive to the U.S. and have it done, pay out of pocket. Our politicians that blessed us with this rotten system regularly travel to the U.S. for most medical services. The quickest way to ruin your health care system is to have it run by the government. Waiting to get the ok for major procedures is common, and horribly delays the time it takes to get it done. Health care providers are leaving the industry as the government determines how much they may profit from their services. If you want doctors, nurses, and all other providers restricted by what they can make by your government, then government run health care is for you. These providers also tend to slack off in their work since they can't be paid any more, or any less. The best ones leave the system and either change occupations, or move to the U.S. to work.

    May 31, 2012 at 10:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TallinOK

      Health care in Europe is, by far, the best. The Canadian system is something of a hybrid and really cannot be used as a model for government controlled medical care.

      May 31, 2012 at 10:55 | Report abuse |
    • What Now

      TallinOk...Exactly. Perhaps we should look at France, Germany or the Swiss sytems. They rank at the top of the list. It is sad that so many have no idea just how low we rate in health care quality.

      May 31, 2012 at 10:59 | Report abuse |
    • that guy

      I don't think you live in Canada. I think you are Repub/TPer that lives in Illinois, and are too dumb to remove Illinois from your "name".

      May 31, 2012 at 11:08 | Report abuse |
    • MKF71

      Steve, as I Canadian, I can tell that you don't live in Canada nor do you have any first hand experience with the Canadian health care system.

      May 31, 2012 at 11:17 | Report abuse |
    • Chuck in Jasper, Ga.

      If you are going to try to convince people "you live in Canada" you should remove the Illinois from your screen name. Do you really think you are fooling anybody but yourself. You do not live in Canada nor use the Medical System there than I live on the moon.

      May 31, 2012 at 11:24 | Report abuse |
    • Steve- Illinois

      I left it that way to make it obvious. I can fabricate a story as easily as the "insurance executive" Timmy Suckle, and only one person questioned his b.s.!

      May 31, 2012 at 11:33 | Report abuse |
    • PaulC

      Yes, but Canada does not enjoy the prestige of being the world's police. You don't have 2 wars of choice to pay for and trillions in aid given annually to dozens of (friendly?) countries or the worlds most expensive military organization with 11 aircraft carrier battle groups sailing around the world creating friends. You only have universal health care. You have my sympathy.

      May 31, 2012 at 11:34 | Report abuse |
    • Chuck in Jasper, Ga.

      No Steve.. you like a lot of Republicans and conservatives like to lie to justify your ignorant uneducated opinion.

      May 31, 2012 at 11:37 | Report abuse |
    • I'm in Canada too

      Not true according to my history. I see my doctor quite often the day I call for an appointment, maybe the next day. My appointments vary from 15 minutes for a prescription re-fill to an hour or more if I need it. My taxes are tolerable, my health care is excellent, my medical out-of-pocket costs are minimal. I'll take our system over other "for profit" systems any day.

      May 31, 2012 at 11:39 | Report abuse |
    • troll patrol

      Steve -Illinois = TROLL

      May 31, 2012 at 11:40 | Report abuse |
    • Grant C

      Yeah... I'm going to have to go with "you're completely full of crap" Steve ILLINOIS. If you live in Canada I live on Mars. Taxes went through the roof when Medicare was established? Back in 1966? Still a fresh wound for you is it, that "through the roof" tax hike 46 years ago?

      And how is it that Canada spends the same amount of public money as a percentage of GDP on it's universal health care plan as the US does on it's very far from universal health care plan but somehow we're supposed to believe Canadian taxes went "through the roof" because of it? Do explain that one. What exactly are you defining as "through the roof"?

      June 4, 2012 at 18:08 | Report abuse |
  10. laeinstein

    you will never get adequate health care reform without any tort reform

    May 31, 2012 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • PaulC

      Tort reform is the bugaboo of the Repugs to divert attention from what is really needed. The insane costs and lack of uniformity are NOT caused by lawsuits.

      May 31, 2012 at 11:36 | Report abuse |
  11. TallinOK

    Medical care costs in the US are obscene. Pure and simple. We have the highest health care costs in the world, yet we are 37th in the world in terms of the quality of medical care.

    May 31, 2012 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Steve- Illinois

      The government run education system in the U.S. is thee most expensive in the world, and rates very poorly comparing results. Government run health care will mirror those results.

      May 31, 2012 at 11:05 | Report abuse |
    • Cancer-Misdiagnosis

      Red herring on Education.

      It does not matter what we spend on Education, and the post did not say anything about government intervention.

      The counter argument is the military health care service. Look at the cost of operation of that system comparatively and see what is possible (although not guaranteed).

      May 31, 2012 at 11:11 | Report abuse |
  12. Cancer-Misdiagnosis

    I had something similar when I was younger.

    Being trapped "in network" made it difficult to get the proper professionals for my own medical condition. Being mis-diagnosed with mildly malignant brain cancer forced several surgeries and "mapping" that was not necessary (one surgery was all that was needed).

    Add to it the "stealth". We were charged full price for an MRI because the hospitals radiology department was NOT IN NETWORK. OK, fine, I will just go for a ride OUT OF THE HOSPITAL WITH A HOLE IN MY HEAD WITH WIRES STICKING OUT because the department was not in network... YET. (yes, they were in network at the beginning of the following month).

    Insurance is a BUSINESS. It only cares to keep you alive for as long as it does not hurt their bottom line. Between them and the unpublished price schemes (ask the Hospital what they will charge for something BEFORE you go in and see what answer you get) the US is a scary place to get seriously ill.

    May 31, 2012 at 11:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Carl

      I went through the same issue with Blue Cross in 2007 where I reached my out of pocket cap in Network at a specialty hospital only to find Blue Cross denying payments and delaying payments for all sorts of reasons. It took forever to get them to clean up the account and I was out even more money beyond my stop loss. Their excuse, in 2007, was our computers in ARKANSAS cannot access records in TEXAS. I had a second surgery last month at the same hospital. We discussed the computers and the in network issues, etc. I was assured that this was a thing of the past and that once again when I reached my stop loss, that would be it and the insurance would cover at 100%. I reached the stop loss on an MRI and a Milogram before my surgery. Now that I have reached my in network stop loss, BLUE CROSS has decided to start processing my claims as out of network at the same facility. Bottom line, if they get away with it, I will have a second stop loss to reach and just like the article says, I may be charged $5000.00 for something that Blue Cross only allows $1000.00, so it will not only be the $5000.00 second stop loss, but I will still be on the hook for the difference of what is allowed and not allowed. Insurance companies are a cancer on the system. We would be better off if we could just pay our insurance premiums every month to a Hospital with the understanding that if we get sick, we are a member and would be seen. Sort of like belonging to a health club. No insurance person in coding, billing, sales, etc. helps the bottom line. They cannot fix anything that is wrong with you. At this day in age, I would not be shocked if when you got sick that instead of going to the doctor, you got sent to the insurance company first, complete a survey on a computer, they diagnose and then tell you how much they will pay and where you can get fixed. Is this not the way our car insurance is now? and they don't repair your cars.

      My situation, I probably could have signed up for disability and avoided the surgery in 2007, sat at home, and lived off disability (tax payers) money and government paid heath care. I want to work. I want to do what is right and I am sick of paying taxes and insurance and not getting anything close to what I pay for in services.

      Cancer-Misdiagnosis-You and I could start a business where we post a guard outside of patients rooms and check all the providers that enter for proper network affiliation. Its not like you or I had a choice when they knocked us out to fix us up. Speaking of such – there is a rule – that if you have a procedure in a facility that is in NETWORK and something happens out of your control by a provider there that is out of network, your insurance is supposed to cover you. I don't know if this is a law, or one of the made up rules by the insurance companies, but I intend to find out in my case.

      May 31, 2012 at 11:48 | Report abuse |
  13. mklsgl

    If there ever was a "no duh!" article, it's this one. We know that Health Care in America is a very unfunny and sadly pathetic JOKE. We are customers–not patients–who pay inflated, unsubstantiated prices for a product–not a service.

    May 31, 2012 at 11:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. mlr

    Great healthcare bill we passed – focused SQAT on the cost of health care... and in fact is driving it UP. Of course a procedure costs more from one doc to another – it all depends on how many patients he has to spread all the overhead costs for the procedures aganst. And ALOT of that overhead is all the regulation paperwork garbage that has nothing to do with treating the patient – and everything to do with keeping bearacrats in jobs in Wash DC!

    May 31, 2012 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chuck in Jasper, Ga.

      You like a lot of people slamming the Affordable Health Care Act, have never read it. The Act does in fact address standardizing the costs for routine treatments and prescription drugs. You just proved that you are simply a sock puppet that will believe anything a Republican or conservative tells you.

      May 31, 2012 at 11:31 | Report abuse |
    • PaulC

      The Affordable Health Care Act goes a long way to correct some of the problems, if it is not overturned by the conservative supreme court. Without a single payer system and control of the insurance companies you will have this situation forever, the Repugs will see to that.

      May 31, 2012 at 11:41 | Report abuse |
  15. trublue

    The health care system has been rape for years, Insurance companies have rape the system. Steve stop it's a money issue bottom line. Some people or just getting smarter the retards & tea-tards can't hide anymore. your fighting for the rich why? Guess what the doctors or the biggest violators with the over billing.

    May 31, 2012 at 11:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. T. Lee

    WHERE'S WILLIAM SHATNER (the "negotiator")

    May 31, 2012 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • T. Lee

      (double post was unintentional – hit the wrong key before completing the one that follows this entry)

      May 31, 2012 at 11:29 | Report abuse |
  17. T. Lee

    WHERE'S WILLIAM SHATNER (the "negotiator") WHEN WE NEED HIM ?!?!?!?

    May 31, 2012 at 11:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Chuck in Jasper, Ga.

    It should be apparent to anyone with a brain that insurance companies do not make money by authorizing care. They make money by denying it. Period. All the arguments anyone cares to come up will never be able to prove otherwise. Health Care in this country is as high as it is because of insurance, not because of the care one receives.

    May 31, 2012 at 11:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. ClemVinson

    why not just ignore the bill? If its that unfair, that obscene, and that rigged in favor of the company; then why participate? Give up your possessions, free yourself from corporate control, and go on about creating an existance where you are in control. You can point fingers at everything else, but its your life and your choices. Choose wisely, or suffer unwise consequences.

    May 31, 2012 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. IndyNc

    without regulation, it will be impossible because the rates aren't even consistant for the same service in the same market.

    My ex worked in medical billing and they would have different rates depending on who your insurer was... and they always billed MORE than the insurer would cover so they could see just how much they DID cover... if by incredible happenstance they paid the whole thing, the next time that insurance was billed for that service the cost went UP.

    It's long been true that prices have no coralation to COSTS (I mean 10 years ago people where complaining over the charges itemized for a box of tissues or a dose of asprin etc) with out severe regluation, there will never be anything to contain these costs.

    As for the compaints I see about socialized health care – our doctors, nurses etc are already choosen for us... either by whoever pays for coverage (Private or govt), who chooses who and what they are willing to pay for. The problem is medical isn't regulated properly

    May 31, 2012 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. ashwin patel

    All the billing done by hospitals, physicians, radiology, labs, etc , are governed by the negotiated rate between the healthcare facility/provider and the patient's insurance. The negotiated rate between the healthcare provider and insurance company is guided by Medicare reimbursement rates . These rates are public knowledge and posted on the Medicare website. For example, an office visit of moderate complexity is coded as 99213 and reimbursed at around $80.00 by Medicare. All insurances usually follow this rate as a percentage of the Medicare rate. It varies from 70% to 110% of Medicare reimbursement rate. For the average person, it is very difficult to know the cost of healthcare beforehand as there are 4- 5 thousand codes along with their associated cost. All this is available on the Medicare website. In most instances, the difference between billed rate and the negotiated rate between the insurance company and the provider/facility is not a patient's responsibility. This is usually a write-off for the healthcare provider/facility. It is people with no health care insurance who has no power of bargaining the cost usually end up paying full billed charges which are astronomical.

    May 31, 2012 at 12:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. ROCKWOOD

    It's all over the place and crazy. I'm on of those 'uninsured' Americans. I developed lower back pain and required an MRI. Hospital wanted $3,000.00 for it, and found it for $395.00 at a local family care center. Took the CD with the images to the hospital for that Dr. to evaluate.

    May 31, 2012 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. ashwin patel

    this is what I meant by billed rate and reimbursed rate. If a person has insurance the hospital will get only $395.00 from the insurance. The difference is not patinet's responsibility. If every healthcare provider billed at the medicare reimbursement rate the uninsured people could actually afford some of the services .

    May 31, 2012 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Guest1m

    Case made. Health care doesn't follow market rules (informed consumers, known options etc.). Thus, the idea that we should sell health insurance on the "free market" is ridiculous. One day, one day, a very long time from now, the U.S. may actually get universal health care. To avoid that day at all costs, please cling to your "freedoms"!

    May 31, 2012 at 18:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. H Benavidez

    Honestly, the only people against socialized medicine are the Insurance Companies and Drug Companies and politicians who are in their pockets. If you look at it from a Health Care perspective, it just makes sense. Don't listen to the scare tactics that the Insurance and Drug Companies enlist. Fight for it. If we don't push for it, who will?

    May 31, 2012 at 22:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. JJ

    $3,000 = cost for a doppler echocardiogram @ local hospital
    $1,300 = cash price for same test @ same hospital
    $300 = cash price for same test @ cardiologists ofc.across the street
    THIS ISN'T HEALTH CARE – ITS INSANITY!!

    June 2, 2012 at 02:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. ATF

    Best to Stay IN-Network based on how a PPO plan is designed. However, if you choose to go out of network, Negotiating w/ non-participating providers, up front, is a good idea.

    June 6, 2012 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Chris Stevensen

    We need some sunshine..."If you're an insurance company you don't want providers knowing what deals you made with other providers. They have really held this information very close to the vest. The market negotiation has nothing to do with patients; it's a negotiation between providers and insurance companies."

    June 7, 2012 at 15:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. John Liner

    Doctor's are the cause of high medical cost. I know that when your go in they will have all the test done! Most of them has no connection with your problem! But they get lot's of money from you ins. company. If the ins. companies want too help cut cost then start with looking at what the Doctor are doing. Just too go in the Doc office is between $150.00 to $200.00. How often is a PSA test needed? The Doc have their own lab and if you have Lab work done every month that the Doc come in for a check. They will do all the check's that is not needed. Just for the money that they can charge!

    June 8, 2012 at 06:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • toothaiker

      I don't know what is more wrong. Your grammar, or your conclusion that doctors are the cause of this. Provider's DO NOT raise their fees 20% a year, yet insurance premiums do. Doctors DO NOT get lots of money from insurance companies (quite the contrary if they are contracted to the insurance company). Doctors work harder now, for less proportional compensation, with more threat of carrier ending lawsuits, than ever before. I agree with a couple of the previous statements posted above.

      Get rid of shareholder involvement with health care.
      Reform provider liability. (ie lower Doctor liability costs. An OBGYN can pay up to $115,000 yearly in liability insurance alone!)
      Go to a single provider system that is non-profit for insurance.
      Bring Rx companies and suppliers under control for hidden costs to your bill.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.