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New site lists costs by state for common health care procedures

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Brian Stentz
New site lists costs by state for common health care procedures
New site lists costs by state for common health care procedures

One of the biggest concerns many Americans may have when they need to undergo a common health care procedure is the cost associated with it. But many experts have pointed out that there is no standard in this regard; having hip surgery in one state will typically carry a completely different cost than another, and the difference could end up costing patients thousands of dollars. However, a new site has emerged to better educate Americans about these issues.

A new site will now show the average cost for as many as 70 procedures and tests based on thousands or even millions of transactions made between care providers and insurers, according to a report from National Public Radio. The data published on the site - Guroo.org, which is run by the nonpartisan organization the Health Care Cost Institute, using data from three major health insurers - shows the real cost, rather than "sticker prices," but does not take into account what individual hospitals or doctors will charge for a given treatment. 

Experts praise the effort
This site might encourage a little more consumer education about the cost of medical care overall, and in general that is seen in the insurance industry as a good thing, the report said. Katherine Hempstead, who analyzes health insurance for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, told the news agency that this may be particularly important for people who do not yet have insurance, or carry high deductibles for their coverage, because if they have to travel an extra hour or two to save thousands of dollars on a treatment, that's almost certainly going to be worth it to them.

However, other experts say that there may be more to do in terms of fully helping people understand what they're dealing with when they try to find reasonable costs for vital care, the report said. While they can look at average local data for a number of places around them, they might not be fully aware of what's actually the "right" price for them to pay.

Health insurers might want to do a little bit more to educate consumers about the benefits of shopping around within their coverage network, as this might do some good to save both policyholder and insurer a potentially considerable amount of money. That, in turn, could go a long way toward boosting retention rates in the emerging environment in which churn might become more likely.



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