Sarah Cliff explains, I’m a health-care reporter. Here’s how I shop for health insurance.. Yeah, the process sucks and "it's impossible to predict your medical costs" but she has some tips.
In 2006, about one in 10 employees had a health insurance deductible over $1,000. Today? About half do. To health economists, this sounded like good news; they've long theorized that higher deductibles would force down health-care costs. The idea was that higher deductibles would make patients become smarter shoppers: If they had to pay more of the cost, they'd likely choose something closer to the $1,529 appendectomy than the $186,955 appendectomy (yes, some hospitals really do charge that much). This would push the really expensive doctors to lower their prices so cheaper physicians didn't steal their business. This was, however, just a theory. And a massive new study suggests it might have been all wrong.
When I read this I first thought, "of course, no one can tell you the price of healthcare when you have to choose, you just get an incomprehensible bill a month later. Ask a doctor what something costs, they have no idea. Mine couldn't even tell me the room number of the x-ray suite they were sending me to in the same building. Apparently, "This study tried giving workers both the tools to compare costs and a financial incentive to go with the less expensive option." I wonder how good those tools were. I always comment to healthcare professionals how I'm a software person and I'm amazed at how crappy their systems are. That at this point, everyone has seen Google and Amazon and know that systems could be simpler and yet they all have to put up with crazy complex systems that never seem to work.