How to get the same health care at a quarter of the cost

You know that visiting doctors and hospitals outside your insurer's network is expensive. What may surprise you is how big a bill you could face even when you stay on the net. In a recent analysis of 93 types of services and processes, Change Healthcare, a company that claims medical claims, found that network rates for the same service often vary by 300% and may vary by 750%.

Choosing the highest price option may cost you: Usually you owe a full fare until you meet the discount option and then usually a percentage of the bill. "Most people assume that if you go to the network everyone gets the same, so the financial consequences for you will be the same," says Douglas Ghertner, Managing Director of Change Healthcare. "But that's not the case."

Your insurer or employer may have a web tool that says what you will pay for certain services to local providers, making your discount and coexistence. Use it. For these types of care in particular, the changes in the network's insurers' deal prices are wide and you may have time to make purchases.

Display: $ 511 to $ 2,815 for a MRI. $ 307 to $ 2,747 for CT scan

Imaging accounts usually run two to three times higher in hospitals than in independent radiology centers, according to Cigna health insurer. In hospitals, says Brian Keigley, founder of New Choice Health, Choice Choice Health, "radiology often subsidizes other service lines." Ask your doctor for options other than the hospital (or the MRI that his practice holds). When comparing costs, confirm that the value includes a pro to read the scan. Check that the installation is accredited with ACR, says Keigley and make sure your doctor will accept the results.

Experts: $ 67 to $ 207 per visit

When you need a specialist like a cardiologist or neurologist, you often end up seeing who the primary care physician recommends. But you should know what's behind the proposal. Often he or she will refer you to the same health care system, says Christine Riedl of Aetna Health Insurance Company. Ask your doctor how important it is to see this specialist against another MD and get some extra names. For common ratings, your billing pricing tool may be parameters for quality measurement from practice so you can see if the fee that corresponds to less meets these standards.

Physical treatment: $ 620 or $ 2,280 for 10 sessions

Hospital facilities often negotiate higher prices with insurers than autonomous PT practices, says Justin Moore of the American Physical Therapy Association. If your doctor suggests a therapist, find out if he or she specializes in your condition. Check how many visits you will need, cost-per-visit (some pricing tools do not include PT), and what you'll owe (confirm with your insurer). Ask what signs will indicate progress, such as the ability to walk down a corridor in X time. Moore says: "Being able to explain it is an indication of the quality of care."
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