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“Last summer, I had one of those ‘$400 emergencies,’ except in my case it could have been a four-figure emergency, and a potentially life-threatening one to boot,” Ester Bloom writes over at CNBC, in a piece about shopping for health care that features us. “A primary care physician found a lump and sent me to a specialist, who sent me to a cancer specialist, who thought I might have a tumor. ‘You need an MRI,’ he told me. My immediate reaction wasn’t just to worry about a malignancy. I also worried about the bills. Living in a big city with small children, my husband and I work hard to pay for the costs of daily life while also saving enough for retirement, college and the unknown. We’re acutely aware that one of the biggest bombs that can get thrown into your budget these days is a medical bill. Even with a family health insurance plan for which we pay a steep premium each month, we know we’re only partially protected. That’s because, like increasing numbers of Americans, we have an even steeper annual deductible to cover before coverage kicks in, plus coinsurance and copays. So I set out to get a better deal. I found out what the MRI I needed would cost me at the hospital to which the cancer specialist referred me, and then I did some research, found cheaper alternatives and booked the scan at one of those instead.” Ester Bloom, “Under 1% of patients use this trick to save hundreds on medical bills.” CNBC.

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...