There are two types of sites here: free and not free. The free sites offer estimates, which are not particularly useful in Massachusetts where a test at one hospital might cost 4x more than at another nearby lab. The sites are tell you exactly what you will pay sell this service to employers. We have the links here, but not the data.
On most of these sites, you’ll put in your zip code and the test or procedure that you want to price. We do not recommend that you use estimates or average prices to budget for your actual medical expenses. But if you are given a price that is higher than the estimate, you might ask why and see if you can bargain for a lower price.
My Health Care Options is a state run site in Massachusetts that shows you quality and cost comparisons. The cost comparisons are based on information from the state’s largest insurers. It may not be up to date. The price ranges we reviewed were lower than the prices we were quoted by hospitals in this database.
Fair Health is a national non-profit whose mission is to bring transparency to healthcare costs and insurance information through comprehensive consumer resources and data products. It taps into a database of billions of billed medical and dental services to help consumers estimate and plan their medical and dental expenditures. If you’ve used this site and have time to post a review, please do.
Clear Health Costs has several features. You can get the price Medicare pays hospitals in Massachusetts for some procedures. If you live in or get care in New York, the site is building a database of prices patients post for tests, medications, etc.
Healthcare Blue Book has estimates for hospital, physician, lab, cosmetic, dental services and hearing aids. The site authors suggest using estimates to bargain for a lower price if a hospital or lab quotes one that is above average.
New Choice Health a site based on Florida, has the most detailed free information for tests and procedures at hospitals in Massachusetts. The site says it posts the “average list price.” We have not checked the accuracy of the prices here or on any of the sites posted on this page.
NH Health Cost works if you live in New Hampshire. It has “the price of medical care in New Hampshire by insurance plan and by procedure. It also provides the estimate price of medical care for the uninsured” and is updated quarterly. It’s run by the NH Insurance Department.
Castlight Health is available to employees or firms who sign on with Castlight and submit employee billing data (company claims privacy is secure). Here’s a description of how Castlight works from the San Fransisco Business News:
To acquire prices for various medical clinics and operations, Castlight reverse-engineers the rates by creating partnerships with the employers to gain access to the health insurance claims of their employees. The employers own the detailed payment data since they pay the bills and that data is given to Castlight to analyze. Several other sources help compose its databank, such as creating relationships with health plans directly so that they can transfer data and help add to transparency.
Compass out of New Hampshire also contracts with employers to give employees the actual cost options for tests and procedures they need. Employees who use the site get cash in return (anyone know how much?)
I’m not sure if this is useful, but if you want to look up a CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) code, try this site. It’s run by the American Medical Association, which owns the copyright to CPT codes.
Here’s another place to find the cost of procedures at hospitals around the country. The site is run by the National Institutes of Health.