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“This is one of the dirty little secrets of healthcare,” said Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. “If your insurance has a high deductible, you should always ask the cash price.”
Cash prices are intended for uninsured patients — and are frequently still much higher than insured rates. But cash prices for many common procedures have come down thanks to changing regulations and consumers increasingly being able to shop around for cheaper providers. Blood tests can be performed at CVS MinuteClinics and other pharmacies, for instance. Or as I reported a few years ago, MRIs are available from independent providers for as little as $300, whereas many hospitals will charge thousands of dollars.
The article’s main example is the case where the cost for blood tests, through insurance, was more than $80, while the cash price was only $15, and was still sufficient for the lab to make a profit.
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