Healthcare Transparency – Flip the Switch in the Healthcare Store

Healthcare Transparency Store
image from Kai Hendry

What if shopping for healthcare was like shopping in a grocery store. Would healthcare transparency exist in the aisles? Recent improvements to the healthcare system have made transparency better. But shopping for healthcare can still be a lot like shopping for groceries in the dark.

Baking a Cake

Imagine this. You decide you want to bake a perfect cake for your daughter’s high school graduation. In order to complete this task, you consult an expert chef; Rachel Ray perhaps. Based on her suggestions, you decide on the exact ingredients and specific processes needed to bake the perfect cake. When you go to the grocery store to buy the ingredients, the lights are off and you are left to shop in the dark! After many struggles, you finally head home with the necessary ingredients. Plus some unnecessary ingredients because, well, you were shopping in the dark. All things considered, you baked the perfect cake and everyone at the graduation party loved it!

One week later, you receive a bill from the grocery store with unexpectedly varying costs for the ingredients you purchased. For example, a dozen eggs cost $3; pretty normal. But you were also charged $50 for one pound of flour. Ridiculous! You would have NEVER paid that much for flour if the lights were on! In addition, the grocery store 10 miles away had flour for $20 per pound, and if you would’ve known, you probably would’ve bought flour at that store instead. Luckily, you have a supplemental payment plan to help you pay for part of the bill. Nonetheless, you could’ve saved some money if the lights were just turned on!

At this point, you can probably see where I’m going with this, but I’ll continue anyway. Substitute a doctor for the expert chef (Dr. Oz perhaps), medications and treatments for the ingredients and baking process, a hospital for the grocery store, and the outcome of your medical treatment (hopefully positive) for the perfect cake. Similar to the grocery store in the dark, hospitals have the ability to set prices however they see fit. Even if it leads to significant markups. Also, many hospitals in different markets across the U.S. have the ability to set a wide variety of prices for the same treatments. For example, according to a study reported by Blue Cross Blue Shield, the average episode for a total knee or hip replacement cost $60,000 in New York City, but only $16,000 in Montgomery, Alabama.

If the grocery store analogy doesn’t work for you, here’s the current healthcare system summed up in 140 characters or less.

Flip the Switch for Healthcare Transparency

Flipping the switch and turning on the lights in the healthcare store will contribute to the evolution of the healthcare system in the United States. The healthcare consumer experience can be vastly improved with healthcare transparency. Specifically for joint replacements, you can shop for replacement products, choose a surgeon, and pick a hospital based on estimated costs. Shopping for a knee implant can even be like shopping for golf clubs! With the movement towards healthcare transparency, never hesitate to ask your provider for estimated costs regarding your medications and treatments.

If you’re in the market for a knee or hip replacement, download this FREE PRICE REPORT that covers average charges for nearly 800 hospitals in the United States!

Always consult a doctor when considering medical treatment to discuss diagnosis, treatment, and cost information.