Consumers of healthcare often feel fairly tied down and helpless, as if they have no choice in who they will receive healthcare from and at what cost. The healthcare industry--including, importantly, insurance companies--have done a good job of taking control over consumers and making consumers feel this way by creating a far from transparent system and deliberately keeping the patient ill-informed. The industry would be somewhat equivalent of a consumer trying to purchase a television at an entertainment store with no price tags or information regarding the characteristics of each brand/style of TV, while the salesman politely says, "Oh, don't worry Mrs. Smith, we will select one for you and send you the bill later. Have a nice day."
Luckily, some consumer friendly companies are providing tools so the patient can regain control of their own care. Here are a few of them:
1. The Healthcare BluebookHealthcare Bluebook (HB) provides consumers with the fair market price of medical treatments, much like Kelley Blue Book informs car buyers and sellers the fair market value of a specific type of car. Simply look for the treatment you need and HB will tell you what you should be paying for it. If the provider you are currently working with is suggesting a much higher price or has already charged you a higher price, it might be time to consider a new provider or negotiate a fairer price. HB also provides resources to help you find a provider who offers the fair market price.
Even if you have health insurance, this is still helpful for consumers whose deductible is dependent on the price of the treatment.
2. Like Healthcare Bluebook, GoodRx helps consumers find the lowest prices, discounts or coupons for prescription drugs at local pharmacies.
3. Hospital Compare provides consumers with the quality of care of local hospitals so they can make decisions regarding the right hospital for them.
4. The Arizona Medical Board allows consumers to search doctors in order to research their certifications, qualifications, profile and importantly, any board actions taken against them.