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Monday, December 2, 2013

How Much Is That X-Ray? Still Hard To Say, Even In Massachusetts

Today's post was shared by Kaiser Health News and comes from
Finding out how much an X-ray costs sounds like a simple question. But it is actually very difficult to get an answer. In Massachusetts, a new state law requires insurers to be able to tell members how much a test, treatment or surgery will cost.
But while the new law pulls back the curtain on prices of health procedures to some degree, the burden is still on the patient to ask for information. And, as a recent test drive of the new law showed, there are quite a few hoops for patients to jump through.
I threw out my back in September playing squash and went to the doctor. She sent me down the hall for X-rays. I may need more. I'm curious about what my costs will be, so I call my insurer, Blue Cross.
The recorded menu option doesn't mention health care prices, so I press zero, for all other inquiries.
Eventually, I connect with Jamie D. (customer service reps at Blue Cross don’t give their last names). I explain that I'd like to compare the price of lower back X-rays at a few facilities.
She starts in with the questions: What's the doctor's name? What's the facility where I want to have the X-ray? I have the doctor's name and facility, but I’m stuck on the next question. Blue Cross wants the procedure codes for each X-ray I may need, my doctor's national ID number and the name, address and ID number for my hospital or lab, so it can consolidate all the charges into one estimate.
Jamie directs me to a form online. I call my doctor and get the info. If I...
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