The price of health care in Washington state is all over the map. In fact, some health care providers charge as much as twice (or more) than what other providers charge for the same procedure, even though the patients they see aren’t any sicker.
Even if the doctor or hospital you’re seeing is in network, you could end up paying more than you would for the same procedure someplace else.
Higher cost does not equal higher quality
Paying more for care doesn’t necessarily mean the care you receive (and your health) will be better. So what can you do to make sure your costs stay reasonable? If your doctor has recommended a procedure, tests or medications:
- Do some research before going into the exam room.
First, make sure all of your doctors, clinics and hospitals are in your health plan’s network. Then, use your health plan’s cost estimator or customer service line to learn what a recommended procedure might cost.
- Ask questions about the procedure and related tests and medications. Ask how much it will cost and if there are other options. More expensive care is not necessarily better care, and less expensive treatments or medications are sometimes the best choice.
- Use the ER only for emergencies. Some settings of care are much more expensive than others, and this includes the emergency room. Visit your primary care provider first, whenever possible. But if it’s not possible, you can also go to urgent care.