Blog | Sunday, December 7, 2008

Consumer-driven health care - FAIL

How can you expect the patient to make good health care purchasing decisions if they can't find out the price of a service?

My patient has a $3500 deductible before insurance will pay anything. She is young and mainly needs preventive care so she is paying out of pocket for everything until she hits $3500 (which certainly didn't happen this year).

She was charged $308 for a blood test for Vit D level. Yes $308 for one test. (Vit D found to be abnormally low so supplements were prescribed by me.)

$308 is no small hunk of change for a working woman. In fact, it is an outrageous charge for a simple blood test. She needs a follow-up test to see if her levels are improving and she has been calling around to other labs to price compare.

SHE CANNOT GET A PRICE QUOTE! I am serious. The labs are annoyed at the question and said they need a "client number" and a "request from a physician" and they will not give her a price estimate so she can be a "good consumer of health care". Without transparency in pricing, we can't expect patients to make good purchasing decisions.


Toni Brayer, MD, FACP