The purpose of Healthcare Bluebook is to protect patients by exposing the truth about healthcare cost and quality variation, so people are empowered to make better decisions for themselves and their family. By giving patients the information they need, they can get better care at a lower price. That’s a lesson I learned that from personal experience.
As a physician, I got to be on the patient's side of the table when my 12-year-old son needed an outpatient foot surgery. The surgeon arranged to perform at a nearby hospital. I could have accepted that recommendation but, like so many in the United States, my family was on a high-deductible health plan which meant I would pay much of the expense myself. So, I called the hospital to check on the price. They said the billed charges would total $37,000 but with the network discount, it would cost between $15,000 to $25,000 for a one-hour, outpatient foot surgery!
I was shocked. Why was the price so high and why wasn’t their estimate more precise?
I called the surgeon and asked if there was another facility that would be appropriate? He said there was another nearby facility that was just as good and more convenient. When I called to get their price, they said it would cost just $1,500.
The same surgeon. The same network. Two different facilities just three blocks apart. But, one of them was $1,500 and the other was $15,000 to $25,000! I was so glad I checked.
I had a realization. This happens every day to patients all over the United States. As a medical doctor, I had an advantage. I knew who to call and what to ask. But, if patients had access to information about price and quality they could get much better clinical and financial outcomes too. That’s why we created Healthcare Bluebook.
We're at a critical point in healthcare. Up until recently, people didn't realize that prices vary and they didn't have a reason to care. But, the increase in high-deductible health plans means more and more people pay for their own care out-of-pocket. And, since ~70% of Americans don’t reach their deductible, they are effectively cash paying consumers—paying 100% of healthcare expense themselves.
There's one medical condition that hurts everyone: Price Blindness™. It's the inability to know what a healthcare service or procedure is going to cost before you receive it.
Healthcare prices vary tremendously and people typically have no idea until it's too late. They might need a sleep study and find that one locations costs only $500, while another nearby location costs almost 10 times that amount; close to $5,000 for the same procedure. Just depending, literally, on which building they walked into that day.
Maybe the most important thing for a patient to know is that the facility is the primary driver of cost variation. The venues doctors choose to perform surgeries on their patients, or where they refer patients for care, affects them financially.
You can also search for doctors. At Healthcare Bluebook, we provide Patient Savings Ratings on physician so that patients can understand how that physician's referral patterns impact the patient's total cost of care. The highest rated physicians are Value Certified Providers, or VCPs. A VCP is a physician that agrees to use Bluebook to make cost-effective referrals; and to be transparent in their own pricing; that is, tell their patients how much it's going to cost before they get care.
If you're a patient, then Bluebook It by searching a procedure to find its Fair Price. If you’re a physician, claim and complete your Healthcare Bluebook profile, and take the pledge to become a Value Certified Provider.
Let’s put an end to healthcare Price Blindness so everyone can get quality care at a Fair Price.