People tend to make smarter financial decisions when paying for things out of pocket. Would you accept the first price you’re offered for a new or used car? Of course not. So why do that for medical procedures? A highly relevant and insightful journal article by the National Center for Policy Analysis entitled “The Market for Medical Care Should Work Like Cosmetic Surgery” posits that the way the healthcare industry prices medical procedures is broken, and that the cosmetic surgery industry presents an interesting platform to address this problem.
Traditionally, consumers have not been picky while pricing out medical procedures since most of the tab is picked up by their health care insurance or their employer. Basically, when other sources pay for you, the incentive to price shop and be cost-conscious is minimal. This has led to a lack of competitiveness as well as a lack of transparency in pricing across the board in healthcare. In most cases, the consumer does not even know the true cost of the procedure, and if the cost is disclosed, it is often intimidating enough to dissuade the out-of-pocket consumer from undergoing the procedure. Case in point: take a 28 year-old friend who needed a CT scan to diagnose some sinus trouble. Due to his $2500 deductible, this young man was not able to undergo the procedure as it was cost-prohibitive if he paid through his insurance network.
However, in our modern age of price-savvy consumerism and popular daily deal sites which often feature medical and dental services, we are seeing the medical field begin to acquiesce to the consumer’s demand for affordable and transparent pricing. In the cosmetic surgery industry, because most patients must pay out-of-pocket, they are more inclined to shop around for their desired procedures. Thus, caregivers have had to keep prices competitive, despite technological innovations and growing popularity. In fact, the growing popularity of cosmetic surgery, combined with easy accessibility to top-notch training by various cosmetic companies, has inspired more doctors to offer aesthetic procedures, thereby increasing competitiveness and lowering prices even more. Combine that notion with an ever more aware and price-conscious public in the information age, and you have a free market for medical procedures that never existed before.
Tools like ZendyHealth allow us, the physicians, to offer you a better alternative to paying for the care you require…and not only for cosmetic care. My friend who needed the CT scan could have paid only $280 for the procedure using ZendyHealth’s matching algorithm instead of the $750 he was quoted.
Fortunately, as a practicing physician, I see more and more people taking advantage of lower pricing and more available information to make better decisions about their healthcare expenses. As the public learns more about medical procedure pricing transparency, and the need for out-of-pocket medical expenses rises, the popularity of “pick your own price” tools for the medical field will only increase. I have worked to position ZendyHealth as an option to those who want to have more control over the costs of their medical care without sacrificing quality.
Written by Dr. Banthia, Double Board Certified Surgeon and Founder of ZendyHealth.com