National Wise Health Consumer Month

In his most recent blog post, Nick Valeriani, Chief Executive of West Health, describes three steps you can take to become a smarter health care consumer: exercise more, protect your healthcare data, and demand transparency in pricing and quality. I have a relevant example from my own life on the importance of transparent pricing. I had a surgical procedure done at a surgery center jointly owned by the surgeons who practice there and their hospital employer. The center told me what my co-payment would be and asked that I pay this amount up front, which I did. A few weeks after the surgery, the center sent me another bill for twice the amount I had already paid. The center had underestimated the number of procedures that I would undergo, and unlike the hospital that employed the surgeon, the center did not accept the rate my insurer was willing to pay for the procedures that were performed, which increased my co-payment. I objected to the bill and made the point that I could have elected to have the surgery done at a facility wholly owned by the hospital, which would have reduced my bill considerably. The center’s billing company agreed to reduce my bill to ten percent of the billed amount.The surgery center had not been transparent, but I was able to leverage my expectation of transparency to reduce my total bill.

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