Figuring out ahead of time what a particular medical procedure will cost is one of the most intractable of problems for consumers.
Fire up your computer for help navigating health costs.
Fire up your computer for help navigating health costs. iStockphoto.com
Hunting around online may help you get a rough idea, though. The Wall Street Journal's Anna Wilde Mathews points to 23 Web sites that can help.
Depending on the procedure, you could save some pretty big bucks by shopping around. One family Mathews talked with trimmed more than $3,000 from the cost of the wife's outpatient surgery by finding a place that charged a lower facility fee than some other centers.
One of the trickiest pricing areas may soon get a little clearer. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo just unveiled the creation of a nonprofit company called FAIR Health to come up with an independent database for setting charges when care is provided outside an insurer's network of approved doctors.
Cuomo has been hammering insurers for relying on a database put together by UnitedHealthcare that allegedly shortchanged doctors and led consumers to pay more for care than they should have. Money from settlements with a bunch of insurers is funding the creation of FAIR Health, which will create a consumer-oriented Web site, too.