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Smart health care shoppers are saving money and getting cash awards | Detroit Free Press

Insurers rolled out these cost calculators as more of their customers enrolled in high-deductible health plans that require spending hundreds or thousands of dollars out of pocket each year before insurance kicks in.

It’s still to be determined whether price transparency on its own can substantially slow the rise or even lower the costs of health care, and, by extension, insurance premiums.

Early research suggests that people will simply cut back on office visits and elective services when faced with a high deductible, rather than adopt savvier shopping.


Still, when up against a big deductible, some patients do pay new attention to prices because they’re on the hook for more of their medical bills.

“People are constantly amazed at the differential in pricing for everything from prescription drugs to gallbladder surgery,” said Mike Embry, president of Southfield-based insurance agency Comprehensive Benefits and current president of the National Association of Health Underwriters.

Price shopping for health care is a relatively new notion for consumers. Many employer-sponsored health plans of the past didn’t have deductibles, and employees could often get tests, procedures and office visits for minimal co-pays.

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Smart health care shoppers are saving money and getting cash awards.

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