5 Useful Resources for Comparing and Assessing Healthcare Costs and Plans

The National Center for Policy Analysis 2007 study of healthcare quality showed that patient consumerism is on the rise. Since the introduction of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in the U.S. Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010, the transformation of the market, managed care insurance policy prices, and quality indicators has led to more demand for easy access to market-based pricing. Consumers can eliminate the healthcare price knowledge gap with these five top healthcare plan comparison tools.

1. Healthcare.gov

The U.S. federal government tool for comparing healthcare plans, Healthcare.gov is a health insurance one-stop shop website dedicated to assisting consumers in their search for the most suitable coverage. The ZIP code search engine allows users to search for insurance providers for their area. Searches can be narrowed according to advanced criteria such as out-of-pocket co-pay limits, average cost per enrollee, and specialty healthcare services products, including maternity coverage.

2. Healthcare Blue Book

The CareOperative LLC free online tool created for consumer estimation of health insurance coverage, the Healthcare Blue Book (www.healthcarebluebook.com) was designed to estimate fair market cash price across thousands of medical provider group price indices, prescription drug plans, and services. Fair market value is calculated by estimation of the ratio of provider pricing of insurance payment for full-service provision to the patient co-pay price. The ZIP code tool refines the price for according to local market, industry average. The Healthcare Blue Book is recognized by health care service providers, consumers, and employers as one of the best sources for estimation of fair cash price for basic and upgraded plans.

3. HealthGrades, Inc.

When consumers are looking for the Right Doctor, Right Hospital, or Right Care, they visit Healthgrades.com. The Right Doctor tool on the site, allows users to search for a specialty provider by category of health condition or medical. The site also includes the Find Specialists ZIP code search tool to locate providers in a healthcare insurance network or area. Users can also conduct searches by Condition, Procedure, or Specialty.

4. Optum

The Optum Healthcare Technology website is a health care system tool and thought leadership site dedicated to knowledge sharing. The website offers tools for comparison of health plans, as well as information for providers, employers, individuals and families, as well as professional information for life sciences and government reporting. The ‘Save & Pay for Health Care’ consumer tool offers tips on health care plan comparison shopping, as well as a guide to managing a health savings account (HAS) for attaining the maximum allowable tax benefit on health care expenses.

5. ZocDoc

ZocDoc is a service that allows potential patients to see if a nearby doctor accepts their insurance. For Example, US Health Group doctors are easily accessible using the site. There is even an option that allows the patient to schedule real time appointments that fit their availability. Recently, ZocDoc added the option of filling out paperwork before stepping in the office which in turn makes the average wait time decrease. This tool helps determine wether there are a good amount of doctors in your area that are covered by a certain carrier. Ease of access is obviously a factor when making a choice.

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