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The Journal Gazette

Friday, October 25, 2013 11:49 am

5 keys to successful health care shopping

By The Associated Press

Patients are being pushed to shop more for health care by insurance plans that require them to pay higher out-of-pocket costs. But finding the right deal is often no easy task. Here are five things to consider if you decide to shop around:

1 - Check with your insurer: Don't make a big bill even larger by shopping for care outside your health insurer's network of doctors. See if you can get better deals inside that network.

2 - Ask for help: Your insurer may offer an application or online tool that lets you compare prices you would pay based on your coverage.

3 - Press for details: A surgery could come with separate invoices from the surgeon, the anesthesiologist and the surgery center. Make sure you have the full picture of potential bills you may face.

4 - Don't equate price with quality: A hospital may charge several different prices for a procedure depending on the patient's insurance coverage or lack thereof. A higher price doesn't always mean better care.

5 - Think hard about quality: Don't weigh just price. Consider things like how much experience a provider has with the surgery or the infection or readmission rates for the hospital.