Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Price Check, Please!

As we've discussed on numerous prior occasions, one of the positive consequences of consumer-centric health care has been increased price-awareness on the part of consumers. Of course, this had led to an increased demand for that most vital necessity: information. My favorite metaphor is McDonald's, where a quick glance at "the board" reveals the going rates for Big Macs and fries salads and Diet Cokes.

So why isn't this the case for health care?

Well, that's changing, as we noted long ago regarding Aetna's Navigator tool. And now, Assurant Health has entered the fray with its take, called "Price Check." This online portal enables Assurant insureds to determine ahead of time the price of a given office visit or procedure:

"With Assurant Price Check, ... clients can find guaranteed costs for common medical services and doctor visits ... Assurant Health Access customers will be reimbursed by Assurant Health for costs exceeding the quoted price range," subject to some fairly reasonable conditions.

Once at the site (currently available only to Assurant's clients and agents), you put in your zip code, select a category (office visit, lab, etc),and a provider (optional). I plugged in a simple flu shot, and got prices ranging from $15 to $18 (excluding the cost of the office visit). Nothing fancy, but pretty cool.

Just for kicks, I also asked about a CT scan of my head/brain [ed: bet the results showed nothing!], and learned that these run from $216 to $238. Such a bargain!

It's heartening to see these kinds of tools becoming more widely available; hopefully, they'll empower consumers to be more cost-conscious.
blog comments powered by Disqus