Medical procedure costs now available to public

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Need a medical procedure?  Want to know how much that will cost you?

The federal government now requires that all hospitals post their prices online, in the name of transparency.  But that may not be as helpful as you’d hoped.

A hospital chargemaster list shows codes, technical names, abbreviations, and prices.  There are thousands of services listed and many patients won’t know which ones they need.

“That could definitely  be a lot of information, too much information, and perhaps confusing to patients to use,” said Dan Weaver, spokesperson for UCHealth.

Plus, he says, few people would ever even pay those listed prices.  The charges do not show the discounts that are negotiated through insurance companies or discounts offered for self-pay patients.

“So the prices that are posted online really don’t represent the prices that most patients might pay,” Weaver said.

That’s why he recommends patients use the UCHealth online price estimate tool that is individualized and factors in your insurance plan.

“In real time it connects with your insurance plan.  So it confirms how much of your deductible, and how much of your out of pocket maximum you have met in your current plan year, which I think is very important for giving you an accurate estimate,” Weaver said.

If you aren’t a patient at UCHealth, there are other options.  You can call your insurance company, or check to see if they have a good online estimate tool.

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