How Much Will Your Health Care Cost?

It can be difficult to find out ahead of time how much a medical procedure or test will cost you. Even your physician can be in the dark about this all important consideration.

Costs for health care services vary throughout the country, and different insurance companies may negotiate for different rates for services with providers and health care organizations. Call your insurance company to see if you can get an estimate for a service, and check to see whether your state offers an insurance web site for average pricing information.

Unfortunately, it may be difficult to get a price because medical costs are figured after insurance claims information is submitted to the billing department and processed.

If you want to estimate your costs ahead of time for a procedure or test, these websites are a good starting point:

APCD Council is a federation of government, private, non-profit, and academic organizations working to improve the development and deployment of state-based all payer claims databases (APCD). Pricing is based on claims data collected from insurers, Medicaid, and Medicare. Some states have consumer websites that are up and running like New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts.

FAIR Health is a national independent, not-for-profit corporation that uses a database of billions of billed medical and dental services to power a free website that enables consumers to estimate and plan their medical and dental expenditures. The website also offers clear, unbiased educational articles and videos about the healthcare insurance reimbursement system. Call 888-288-1441for more information.

Healthcare Blue Book is a free guide to help determine fair prices in your area for healthcare services. It is especially helpful for people who pay for healthcare out of pocket, have a high deductible or need a service that their insurance does not cover.

Tips for Lowering Medical Bills

There are some steps you can take to reduce your health care costs, including shopping around, negotiating your bills, and avoiding unnecessary tests

Here are some websites with tips about how to approach negotiating lower fees for health care services and lowering your health care costs in general.

Consumer Reports published an article in July 2012 on how to avoid surprises in your medical bills.

The New York Times published an article in 2009 titled, "Bargain down the Medical Bills" with information about how to negotiate medical bill payments or set up payment plans. published, "Eight Ways to Cut Your Doctor Bills".

The Chicago Tribune published, "It'll Only Hurt for a Minute" with more tips on getting quotes and negotiating the cost of your health care. provides tips on lowering your health care costs and keeping health insurance affordable. You can also reach them by phone at 866-573-8466

Resources reviewed June 2013

Getting Health Insurance
Advice for finding the right health insurance to fit your needs and budget, as well as information about health insurance reform.
Health Insurance: Glossary of Common Terms
Don’t know a deductible from a premium? Here’s a helpful guide to health insurance terms.
What Are Medicare and Medicaid?
Learn more about the U.S. government’s health insurance programs
How Much Will Your Health Care Cost?
It can be hard to figure out how much your health care will cost ahead of time. Here are some tips for preparing for the cost of your procedures and websites that can provide estimates for common procedures.
Paying for Prescription Medications
Prescription drugs can be expensive. Here’s how to get help paying for them and finding lower cost options.
Handling an Insurance Dispute
If you’re faced with an unexpected charge or your health insurance denies you coverage for a procedure or treatment, here are some steps you can take.


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