Fading Out: Aging and Beyond RSS feed

Taking the mystery out of health care prices

October 10, 2015

Tags: price transparency, health prices, medical charges, medical bill, hospital price, price disparities

by Pat McNees (updated 6-9-17, 7-29-16 and 11-30-15. Original story 10-10-15)
Can we lift the veil on health care prices? Are we moving toward pricing transparency (getting doctors, patients, service providers, and insurance companies on the same page)? When our doctors send us for tests and procedures, must we be like the dinner guest in a fancy restaurant who is handed the menu without prices? How many of us know up front what a colonoscopy costs -- or how much charges for any procedure vary from one clinic or doctor to another? What does an MRI cost? Are prices uniform or predictable?

Until recently, it has been difficult to know in advance what a particular health problem or procedure will end up costing us, as patients. Or how much health care costs vary between practices, cities, and states. Some things are changing, but you have to do your homework to be a smart health care consumer. The following articles shed light on a changing system and improvements in which information consumers have access to.
Clear Health Costs: Cracking the Code Coverage. In April 2017, New Orleans PriceCheck, reporting on and crowdsourcing health prices with partners WVUE FOX 8 Live and NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune, began saving its readers and listeners lots of money by comparing health care prices publicly. Says Jeanne Pinder, "We use shoe-leather journalism, data journalism and crowdsourcing to reveal the mysteries of pricing. The project is on fire, with hundreds of people sharing their stories, commenting, and sending in their EOB's [explanations of benefits]. The hospitals are extremely upset with us, and we have been able to save people hundreds of dollars (more…)

End-of-life planning and decision-making
Have "The Conversation"

October 9, 2015

Tags: Compassionate choices, Choosing Wisely, slow medicine, death with dignity

by Pat McNees
Resources for when terminal or life-threatening illness requires decisions about what individuals, families, and professional caregivers should do. Let's start with
Five Wishes (Aging with Dignity -- changing the way we talk about and plan for care at the end of life). Five Wishes lets your family and doctors know:
---Who you want to make health care decisions for you when you can't make them.
---The kind of medical treatment you want or don't want.
---How comfortable you want to be.
---How you want people to treat you.
---What you want your loved ones to know. (more…)