I have a high deductible health insurance plan. That means the first $2000 or so expenses per year are not covered by my insurance.

What's a good way to compare health care costs from different providers? Are there any web sites that have this kind of information?

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    The way my plan works (you might check to see if yours works similarly) is if you choose to get services at a "participating" organization, you pay a negotiated rate (which is a whole lot less expensive than if you walked-in off the street... often 60% off). That would mean you don't need to shop providers by price...just make sure they're participating, then go by quality/convenience. And you probably can look-up various procedures on the insurance company web site to get the negotiated rates. – Dale Dec 24 '11 at 18:12

There really isn't any good ways that I'm aware of. (The exception is in New York or California, where hospitals must post prices.)

The law sets price floors on many procedures by setting Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates. As a result, the "list price" for a given procedure is dramatically inflated, and various health insurers negotiate rates somewhere in the middle.

I'd recommend talking to the business offices or financial counselors at medical groups that you do business with. Ask about "self pay discounts" or other programs appropriate for folks in your position.

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  • The inflation of "list prices" is not because the price floors set by Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates are very high, but because the reimbursement rates are so low that doctors and hospitals have to charge everyone else far more just to make ends meet. Health insurers then negotiate down from this high price which health providers accept on the principle that the bird in hand (of a guaranteed smaller payment from insurance) is worth the two in the bush of a higher bill for medical services that might never be paid in full. – Dilip Sarwate May 15 '12 at 12:26

When I had a high-deductible healthcare plan, I used http://www.ehealthinsurance.com/ to do comparisons among the plans. As far as comparing the costs of specific procedures across providers, I'm not aware of any good ways either.

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