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Doctor discipline: Resources for judging quality in health care

Posted by on November 17, 2014


Summary: When we display prices for medical treatments, inevitably the question of quality comes up. Since price and quality are both hidden from public view in health care, we are always excited to see some source — any source — of quality information. One source: doctor disciplinary listings.



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Health startups: Rockies Venture Club nurtures Denver’s ecosystem

Posted by on November 14, 2014

rockies venture
Summary: There’s an active health startup ecosystem in the Denver area, where investors are looking at transparency issues, self-tracking devices like the Fitbit, and other ways to build on the big changes in the health care marketplace, I learned at the Colorado Capital Conference held by the Rockies Venture Club in Denver Wednesday through Friday.



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Buying health insurance: Our tools for open enrollment, Nov. 15-Feb. 15

Posted by on November 8, 2014
Kaiser's analysis of 2015 rates

Kaiser’s analysis of 2015 rates

Summary: We have a collection of tools and information about buying health insurance. While this is not our speciality — price transparency is what we do best! — we do present handy tools for this complicated task. Open enrollment for many employer-sponsored plans has been under way for a bit, and the federal and state insurance-shopping exchanges are scheduled to open Nov. 15 and stay open through Feb. 15. What do you need to know? We’re updating our “Finding Insurance” page from last year with fresh resources as fast as we can. You can find it here



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Calling the insurance company: A ‘Pearls Before Swine’ comic strip

Posted by on November 5, 2014

Summary: For most of us, this is what it feels like to call the insurance company. Stephan Pastis is the creator of “Pearls Before Swine,” which is one of the best comics in the universe. Go to GoComics, click, buy his books.  Enjoy. 

calling the insurance company


Cost of a colonoscopy in California: Payments from $1,200 to $7,126.80

Posted by on October 30, 2014


Summary: How much does a colonoscopy cost? From $0 to $7,240 in California, we learned from our PriceCheck community. Though preventive care is supposed to be covered under the Affordable Care Act, people are paying a lot for their colonoscopies, we learned — and the range of payments by insurers is surprisingly wide.



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Insurance shopping tools online: Open enrollment nears

Posted by on October 28, 2014

insurance shopping tools

Summary: As open enrollment nears, there’s an increase in the number of tools available to help you shop for insurance. I will be using the New York State of Health exchange, as I did last year, and may test-drive some of these tools. Some of them will be better than others; some may try to give you information that lets their creators make money. So: pay attention. Here’s a sampling.



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Diabetes test strips: How much do they cost? 15 cents or $1.50 each.

Posted by on October 26, 2014


Summary: Diabetes test strips can cost a lot. We heard prices ranging from  15 cents a strip, to $9 for a box of 50 strips (18 cents each) up to $1.50 per strip. A little more than 60 cents a strip is not uncommon. The strips are used by diabetics to test their blood glucose. While sometimes strips are fully covered by insurance, quite often they are not, as we learned in our #PriceCheck project, crowdsourcing health care prices in California.



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Our PriceCheck project in California: Links to our work

Posted by on October 23, 2014

Summary: Our #PriceCheck project crowdsourcing health care prices in California, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is live at this link. The reporting from the three partners — us at clearhealthcosts, KQED public radio in San Francisco and KPCC/Southern California Public Radio in Los Angeles — has been collected on this Tumblr. For further information, email us at Why is this project not currently on this site? A tech problem: our custom CMS theme doesn’t easily accommodate the computer coding that PriceCheck uses. We’re working on that. 


Prescription Drug Coupons — No Such Thing as a Free Lunch — NEJM

Posted by on October 22, 2014

Summary: “Visit nearly any official website for a brand-name drug available in the United States and, mixed in with links to prescribing and safety information, you’ll find links to drug “coupons,” including copayment-assistance programs and monthly savings cards. Most offers are variations on ‘Why pay more? With the [drug] savings card, you can get [drug] for only $18 per prescription if eligible’ or ‘Get a free 30-capsule trial of [drug] with your doctor’s prescription and ask your doctor if [drug] is right for you.’ Why do manufacturers offer drug coupons? Are they good for patients in the long run? Are they even legal?” two doctors ask in a piece in the New England Journal of Medicine.




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Poll finds many insured people struggle with medical bills: The Washington Post

Posted by on October 14, 2014

Summary: “They have health insurance, but still no peace of mind. Overall, 1 in 4 privately insured adults say they doubt they could pay for a major unexpected illness or injury. A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research  … found the biggest financial worries among people with so-called high-deductible plans that require patients to pay a big chunk of their medical bills each year before insurance kicks in. … Edward Frank of Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania, said he bought a plan with a $6,000 deductible last year through That’s in the high range, since deductibles for popular silver plans on the insurance exchanges average about $3,100 — still a lot. ‘Unless you get desperately ill and in the hospital for weeks, it’s going to cost you more to have this plan and pay the premiums than to pay the bill just outright,’ said Frank, who ended up paying $4,000 of his own money for treatment of shoulder pain.” The Associated Press,  Poll: Many insured struggle with medical bills – The Washington Post.


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