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Two ways to save money on healthcare [ClearOnMoney]
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Two ways to save money on healthcare

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Commentary

Two ways to save money on healthcare

21 Feb 2013 by Jim Fickett.

Saving money can help with your finances just as much as better investing, and health care is often expensive, so I'll detour in this post to mention two money-saving ideas.

Know a reasonable price before you agree to a treatment

This has been difficult in the past, but things are improving. The Healthcare Blue Book, while far from comprehensive, covers a large number of common procedures and gives you a fair price for your zip code.

Avoid unnecessary procedures

There are many tests and treatments that provide little or no benefit, and may even be harmful, but continue to be commonly used. In most cases this is probably due to honest differences of opinion, or to the difficulty of keeping up with information in many areas. But sometimes there is a conflict of interest. As Reuters reports,

Intermountain Healthcare, a group of hospitals and clinics in Utah, … recently cut its rate of inappropriate labor inductions and cesareans from 28 percent of births to 2 percent. That saved Utah $50 million a year in healthcare spending, mostly by reducing use of the neonatal intensive care unit, where many babies delivered in these ways wind up. But Intermountain also lost $9 million in annual billings.

“In our fee-for-service healthcare system,” said Consumer Reports' Santa, “poor clinical outcomes for babies improve revenue streams for hospitals,” and better care can reduce revenues.

The ABIM Foundation, representing a large number of specialty physicians, has put together a number of topical lists with recommendations on what tests and procedures to avoid, on a website called Choosing Wisely. It would be a good idea to look through this before your next trip to the doctor.