So why don't health care services follow the same model? At a recent PT appointment, I asked how much the visit would be. The desk attendant did not know. She said she was not allowed to know how much the insurance company had contracted to pay them. So I asked how much I had to pay that day. She said none; I would be billed. I asked her to call my insurance company to find out if I had met my deductible. She called (she was really helpful!) and my personal deductible was $400. My family deductible was $800, but we had already met $400 of that. She said the charges submitted would be between $275 and $350, depending on the services done during the visit.
In the end, I think I would have had to pay the entire amount, except I didn't know what that amount would be since I still didn't know how much my insurance company had contracted to pay the provider. I'm not going to find out as I decided it was too much trouble. I left the building.
As consumers, we are going to have to start asking these questions. We need to know if there is value for the money we are spending out of pocket. I constantly hear about how investors need more disclosure, but don't we deserve better cost transparency from our health care system? Until we begin to look at health care as a purchase, like apples, we will continue to allow insurance companies to dictate the prices and services we receive.