by Patrick Appel
The Consumerist highlights a new website that lets prospective patients find standard costs for procedures based upon zip code. The Consumerist blogger isn't thrilled:
I imagine this site can be helpful in rooting out price gougers or helping people decide whether they can afford liposuction. But that strikes me as its only good use. Do you really want to choose a surgeon or hospital based on price? Healthcare is such a complex matter that the typical consumer isn't equipped to understand the difference between methods and procedures, between what's necessary and not.
By itself this website isn't enough, but if health insurance company websites provided this sort of analysis along with online tools to rank and review doctors it would be much easier to determine the best value and the best doctors. Yelp.com does this for restaurants. Amazon.com does this for merchandise. Why can't we mandate that insurance companies do this for health care? I've often looked through approved providers on my health insurance company's website but have no way to determine the quality of various doctors without googling them to see if they have been rated and reviewed elsewhere. Often there is no information to be found, so I pick a doctor based upon geographic location. There is a better way.