Archive for Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tools can help you find best health plan

October 24, 2006


As much as many consumers hate shopping for cars, that's nothing compared with trying to price out a medical procedure or a routine visit to the doctor.

Increasingly, workers are pushed into consumer-directed health plans supposed to encourage people to look for lower-cost medical services. This means more people will need to know what their medical services cost to determine whether it's worth switching to a consumer-driven plan.

So before you decide on a health plan, try the following resources:

¢ Humana Inc., in partnership with advocacy group Consumer Action, has created a free Web site ( that includes a family health budget planner. On the site you will find a number of tools to help you choose the best health care plan and benefits.

¢ WageWorks Inc. (, has a health care flexible spending account or FSA calculator. An FSA lets you set aside a certain amount of money before taxes to pay for qualified medical expenses.

¢ eHealthInsurance ( is a good source for people not covered by an employee health plan and who need to buy their own insurance.

¢ gives information on 1,300 health plans and tens of thousands of agents and brokers nationwide.

¢ HealthGrades Inc. ( sells reports on the cost of 55 medical procedures, based on regional averages of payments made by health plans. One report costs $7.95. Hospital ratings of 28 procedures and diagnoses are offered free of charge. A more detailed hospital report that looks at nearly 100 procedures is offered for $17.95 ($2.95 for subsequent reports).

Some employers provide HealthGrades reports for free as a benefit.

Finding the best health plan is definitely not as easy as pricing out a Honda Accord. But when it comes to your health care, spend at least the same amount of time calculating the costs as you do pricing out your new ride.


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