Price Estimate ad

Have you ever been stuck paying a really high fee for a lab test? You might be surprised to learn that some patients are shopping for health care — pricing out laboratory work, blood tests, and prescriptions before even heading to the doctor. Here’s what one patient commented on Facebook, and how we chronicled her experience.

“I always price out any labs or tests, even prescriptions before hand the price variations are wild, I then choose the lowest,” she commented on a Facebook post on my TED talk.

I queried her:

“Thanks for this! This is my TED talk. I’d like to write about your experience for my blog. Can you email me at Thanks!”

She replied:

“I was surprised a few years ago when I had routine blood work done at my doctor’s office that ended up costing me a net $1000+ after insurance! I actually had them run it through again to make sure it was correct.

“Now I go through an app with IU Health (not my main provider) that will let me know the cost to me after insurance for labs – I drive about 30 miles instead of walking a few blocks to my doctor’s office but the savings is incredible on average under $20 for any blood test.

“I then found that my prescription drug insurance wasn’t the cheapest way to go for all but one of my prescriptions.

“Some are cheaper in cash at Walmart $10 for 90 days or I use GoodRX app to search for the lowest non insurance price print off a coupon and take hundreds of dollars off – this is crazy to have to play this game.

“The same is true for MRI or X-ray- I get a script from my doctor, do my research and then go wherever the price is affordable.

“Ortho walk in clinic cost me only $50 when I broke my foot, ER would have cost a manditory $200 + a hefty % of costs …

“I have a current prescription I can’t fill because insurance has denied it although my cardiologist is on his third appeal…I can find it costing over a $1000 a month and as low $470 a month…if insurance would cover it I would only have to pay $5…”

Related: Here’s our post on paying cash for health care even if you’re insured.


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...