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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Healthcare Cost Resources

One of the "extras" I added to an assignment was to add cost data to diagnosis and treatment options for my "disease project" paper in one of my classes.  I found a number of resources that were somewhat helpful in finding cost data.  While the variations in cost for different tests and treatments are quite insane, I can verify that they do in fact exist, and that I have seen some of these ranges even from my own insurer.

Some useful resources at the Meta-level:
Members of the Society for Participatory Medicine were especially helpful in answering my queries.
Twitter as always helps: @PracticalWisdom @RichDuszak @dlschermd @ElinSilveous @emilayamei and @Berci all provided some useful feedback and links.

Some of these tools require that you know the right codes.  If you don't know the ICD or CPT code, just write the name of the procedure and add ICD-9 or CPT to the search criteria.  You'll find it.

These were the tools I wound up using in my search

  1. New Choice Health
    Not every procedure is covered, and they have limited coverage of various cities.  If you live close enough to a big one, you'll find it.  I wish they'd provide national level ranges for some procedures. 
  2. Health Care Blue Book
    Also missing a number of procedures, but has more than New Choice Health.  The method by which fair price is determined isn't terribly transparent (to me at least), but the prices seem to be in line.
  3. AHRQ Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project
    Hospital data only apparently.  Still quite useful and an lot more detail than you might expect.
  4. Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Search
    Non-hospital fees for various treatments and diagnostics.  Useful but I wish there was a way to get min/max/average easily for a codes list or range

And then there's always Google.


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