Patients looking to save some money on expected medical procedures have taken to comparison shopping and planning ahead for high costs and co-pays. Hospital systems, Web sites and the states are compiling the costs of procedures and posting them online so patients can comparison shop or budget ahead before their procedure or test.
The list of comparison services available is extensive, as are their lists of tests and procedures: maternity, knee replacement, appendectomies, colonoscopies; some systems compare hundreds of providers and services.
Consumers are driving this trend, but so is the Internet. Hospitals see it as one more way of making more informed decisions, while one Web site founder compared it (crassly, I thought) to buying a car, including haggling over prices to get steep discounts.