Now this is interesting: A study that shows that people who are insured ask for the cost of health-care items and procedures, and that the more they ask, the more they feel that they are able to lower prices.

The study by the Altarum Institute asked more than 2,000 people with employer-sponsored health insurance if they had ever asked about prices before visiting a provider. A total of 48 percent said yes, up 5 percentage points from last year. (These results are from the fall 2012 version of the study.)

The report also found that people who had asked about prices were more confident that they were able to exert some control over the costs of care. They authors couldn’t decide, though, whether asking brought confidence, or confidence brought asking.

“Findings in this report also suggest that those who  have asked about prices are more confident that they can reduce costs by shopping,” the study said. “While 40% of those who were not at all confident had asked about prices, 60% of those who were very confident had asked about prices. Either those who were confident were more likely to ask, or those who ask have an increased level of confidence as a result.”

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...