If possible, keep your own lists of tests, medications, and treatments. Hospitals have been known to charge men for pregnancy tests and adults for newborn tests.
– Never pay the bill before leaving the hospital. You may be told this is required, but it is not. Before paying your bill read it carefully, and compare it to the estimated costs you were given before being admitted.
– Demand an itemized bill, and ask for a detailed explanation for any items you don’t understand. Don’t accept generic answers like “lab fees” or “miscellaneous fees”.
Health Savings Accounts Promote Price Transparency
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are plans that have a high deductible, and a savings account in which tax-deductible contributions can be placed. The money in the account can be used to pay deductibles and other charges not covered by health insurance.
The great promise of health savings accounts is that they will re-inject market competition into the healthcare market. As all of us who were fortunate enough to take Economics 101 understand, the balance of supply and demand provides the public with the greatest value at the lowest possible cost. If company B can produce and distribute the same quality widgets as company A, but at a lower cost, then the average price of widgets will fall, more people will be able to afford more widgets, and the average quality of a widget will increase, as businesses compete for customers. This is a wonderful system, and is part of what has made the United States the wealthiest country in the world.
Unfortunately, this system has not been in play when it comes to healthcare, because the consumer has not typically been paying the bill. As a result, the consumer doesn’t care what the service costs, and most doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies are very reluctant to reveal their (high) prices.
Health Savings Accounts are now changing all that. Millions of people have purchased these plans because of the lower premiums and tax advantages they offer. This has made consumers much more aware of what they are being charged. By demanding to know prices up front, HSA holders will begin to force medical providers to compete on price and quality, just like any other business does.