Sunday, October 27, 2013

Negotiating costs

A correspondent to Talking Points Memo makes a point that matches my experience:
I've spent years making medical decisions based on the out-of-pocket cost. I've passed on doctor-advised MRIs because they would cost me $1,000 (and don't even get me started on the myth of how patients can negotiate with providers--a notion propagated largely by people who've never had to try it), and just this week I had to decide whether to have a follow-up visit with a neurologist for vertigo or see a podiatrist about an ongoing running injury.
If there was a robustly competitive market then maybe it would be different.  But most people have insurance and there isn't really a whole lot of ability to bargain down prices.  I found it to be surprisingly challenging to be allowed in to see a medical doctor, paying the full (very high) sticker price. 

I don't want to say that it has never worked for anybody (the US is large), but most of the time you are happy to find a provider at all.

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