The medical system’s pricing system can seem opaque to consumers. If you have no insurance or have a policy with a high deductible, though, it’s often crucial to find out what the standard price is for a procedure, service or treatment you’re considering. There can be a huge variation between what two hospitals charge for the same procedure. And a huge variation between how much one insured patient vs. another patient with different insurance plan pays – at the same hospital.

One obvious step is to consult with your insurer or employer before you schedule a procedure, to find out how much you will have to pay out of pocket.

Meanwhile,  the uninsured don’t get the advantage of insurer discounts and often pay a steep price for treatment.

Here’s one place that will help you assess the price of care, so you can comparison-shop. The Healthcare Blue Book prices represents a fair price to pay for a service or product when the patient is paying cash at the time of treatment. It represents a payment amount that many high-quality providers accept from insurance companies as payment in full, and it is usually less than the stated “billed charges” amount.

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