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Skyrocketing healthcare costs: Do your research

Posted at 5:38 PM, Mar 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-22 23:36:05-04

Healthcare costs continue to soar nationwide, including in Tampa Bay. As our nation’s leaders debate over the Affordable Care Act, one big concern is that prices could go up for the procedures you need. 

One website is the key for you to make sure you won’t get ripped off: www.healthcarebluebook.com. The site allows you to put in your zip code and the procedure you need. It gives you the fair price of the treatment so you can negotiate to find a clinic or hospital that offers the procedure cheaper. 

Another trick: Type in the CPT (Current Procedural Terminology, it’s a medical code for the procedure) or name of the procedure into this website: https://www.fairhealthconsumer.org/medicalcostlookup.php to find price comparisons at local hospitals. 

Barry and Bridget Bowyer wish they would have done more research before their latest procedure. Bridget Bowyer went to the hospital for a routine echocardiogram heart scan. 

“When we got the bill, we were just astounded,” Barry Bowyer explained, “It was the ultimate sticker shock.” 

Weeks after the procedure, the couple was mailed a bill for nearly $3,000 and only half was paid by their insurance. 

“The strange and disconcerting thing about that is that my mother in law had the exact same procedure performed two weeks before for $290,” Bowyer explained. His mother in law didn’t even have insurance and still got the treatment $2,700 dollars cheaper.

That’s when Bowyer, who works as a research scientist, started digging. What he found astonished him.

“I found a range from thousands of dollars to as low as $170 for this same echocardiogram procedure in Tampa.”

Bowyer hopes more people will do their research before opting for a procedure. He also wishes his insurance company would have been more upfront about the costs. 

With an estimated 10 million people that could lose their healthcare if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, he worries more people will end up trapped in a collection nightmare like him.

“I offered to pay $400, the amount I think the procedure should have cost, but they didn’t bite. I guess we’ll be dealing with this either in court or with a lawyer over the telephone,” Bowyer added.

A recent study by the journal Health Affairs found some local hospitals marking up prices 1,000%, and 20 of the 50 hospitals with the worst prices were here in Florida. 7 were in Tampa Bay. You can read the study here: http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/34/6/922.full.pdf+html

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