Friday, December 27, 2013

Price Shopping for Medical Care in Massachusetts

Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012, an Act Improving the Quality of Health Care and Reducing Costs Through Increased Transparency, Efficiency and Innovation, may radically change the way cost conscious Massachusetts patients make health care choices.  Theoretically, patients will eventually be able to shop around by estimated cost, before deciding which provider they will use for a specific medical appointment, test or procedure.  They will also be able to find out how much they will have to pay out of pocket, factoring in deductibles, copays and other specifics of their insurance policies.

Since October, insurers have been required to provide members with cost estimates within two working days, but the systems being put in place may be cumbersome for a while. Insurers are liable if the estimates are incorrect.  In January 2014, the law extends to providers when a patient requests an estimate.  A recent Boston Globe article contains a description of the current state of the roll out of the law and what shopping tools medical consumers can expect to have available in the New Year.