Online Medical Pricing Takes On New Importance In Struggling Economy
"Consumers are increasingly turning to the Web to compare medical fees as the economy and less generous health benefits squeeze household budgets," The Associated Press reports. Their efforts are aided in many states by laws that require online posting of medical fees. "More than 30 states have passed laws that require online publication of medical fees by hospitals and other health care providers," according to the AP. But, shopping around can be an arduous task and "even when patients think they know exactly what they'll be paying, unexpected fees can quickly inflate medical bills."
In the past there has been little incentive to shop around because most health insurance kept people sheltered from the cost of care, but as businesses increasingly enroll workers in high-deductible plans, people are forced to pay thousands more for their care. "'What's driving this is that people are becoming less isolated from the cost of things,' said Merrill Matthews, director of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, a conservative-aligned advocacy group. 'It's creating a market out there where consumers want to know more about price'" (Perrone, 12/1).