It's easy to make the right choice when you can see who charges what, but what happens when all you've got is the Fair Price?
Well, I found out a few weeks ago when I went to the dentist.
I bought a Groupon from a local dentist that included a cleaning, x-rays and what whatever else it is that they need to look at in there. After a very thorough evaluation of my pearly whites, the dentist said I needed to have some work done. Actually, a lot of work. $1,800 worth of work, to be exact.
I was sort of in a rush, but I asked the receptionist to please print out the suggested procedures, with prices and any cash-pay discounts available. That brought it down to about $1,700. Even though I work at Healthcare Bluebook and deal with prices every day, I had no idea if I was getting overcharged or not. After I had some time to digest the idea of needing more done to my teeth, I sat down and found the Fair Price for all of the things the dentist wanted to fix. The first line of the quote was $100 more than the Bluebook Fair Price. So was the second. And the third. You see where this is going.
After a few emails back and forth with the dentist's office, and asking them to accept the Fair Price as payment, they suggested that I call around to a few other dentists and that would show me their prices weren't as expensive. The second place I called was two miles away and said that their cash-pay prices were significantly lower than the quote I was working from. I visited the new dentist two days later to get a second opinion. Some of the work the first dentist suggested wasn't necessary, and they missed something that needed to be repaired pretty quickly. After one semi-serious procedure, and several small things, I walked out paying just over $1,000. And that included a cash-pay discount and a discount to pay in full that day.
The moral of my story is that even though you feel like you're being routed down a certain path, you don't have to stay on someone else's course. These were my teeth and my money and I was determined to get the right care at a Fair Price. Even if it meant another 10 minutes on the phone and driving two miles further!