5 keys to successful health care shopping

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Oct. 25 2013 1:19 p.m. MDT

This file photo taken Aug. 27, 2013 shows a nurse preparing to administer chemotherapy treatment to Bev Veals at Duke Cancer Center in Durham, N.C.

Gerry Broome, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

Patients are being pushed to shop more for health care by insurance plans that require them to pay higher out-of-pocket costs. But finding the right deal is often no easy task. Here are five things to consider if you decide to shop around:

1 — Check with your insurer: Don't make a big bill even larger by shopping for care outside your health insurer's network of doctors. See if you can get better deals inside that network.

2 — Ask for help: Your insurer may offer an application or online tool that lets you compare prices you would pay based on your coverage.

3 — Press for details: A surgery could come with separate invoices from the surgeon, the anesthesiologist and the surgery center. Make sure you have the full picture of potential bills you may face.

4 — Don't equate price with quality: A hospital may charge several different prices for a procedure depending on the patient's insurance coverage or lack thereof. A higher price doesn't always mean better care.

5 — Think hard about quality: Don't weigh just price. Consider things like how much experience a provider has with the surgery or the infection or readmission rates for the hospital.

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