Price Shopping in Medicine: What it means for doctors.
What if patients started looking for doctors based not only on quality of medical care, but also on their.....price?
This, of course, sounds like heresy because after all, medicine should be all about helping our fellow human beings regardless of their ability to pay. In theory, yes. But when we talk about $3.4 trillion (yeah, trillion) that was spent on health care in 2016 alone, doesn't it make you wonder just a little bit?
So, if one of your patients asked you about how much a visit would be, could you provide a definitive answer?
Most independent doctors would likely say that it depends on what insurance pays. Meanwhile, most employed doctors (by hospitals or foundations) would probably defer to clinic managers or administrators for the answer and explanation. This lack of clarity is not due because doctors don't want patients to know - it's because they really have no idea.
We are sorry to break it to you, but pleading ignorance is no longer good enough!
Imagine, you are at a nice restaurant looking at a menu and there's no price. You then inquire about how much that salmon is and the waiter tells you, "I'm not sure. It depends. But don't worry, you'll get a bill later". You would simply get up and run away.
Why should a doctor visit be any different?
It is the doctor's responsibility to know how much his or her services are, and luckily, it's not that difficult as long as you know what your PPO and medicare rates are for any given level of service. And if you don't know what they are, just ask your carriers. Don't be afraid to post your rates or least have a nicely laminated copy ready for patient's review. And if you happen to be an independent provider you already have an edge over your employed colleagues: invariably your contracted PPO rates are going to be lower than theirs.
This means lower charges for your patients...and patients LOVE lower costs.
So don't be afraid to proudly display your prices because after all, we still technically live in a free market!