I gave my patient an order for a hip Xray to evaluate pain that would not go away. Because she has a $5000 deductible with Anthem Blue Cross insurance, she knew that she would be paying for it. She spent hours calling local hospitals to compare prices and became more frustrated and confused as time went on. She was told they couldn't look it up without a code. She was asked what hospital campus she would use for the Xray. (implying there are different prices at the same hospital if you used a different X-ray machine) She was placed on hold and cut off when transferred. She was quoted a price of $745 at one hospital and $886 at another and this did not include the radiologist fee for reading the Xray.
I have advised her to call her insurance company, but I have doubts they will tell her their contracted price (which becomes her cost) in advance.
This is the reality of health care in the United States. Even patients who have insurance struggle with decisions about cost and benefit of tests and spend hours trying to get information to make health decisions. It is time for patients and employers who buy health insurance to stand up and demand transparency of costs.