Shopping for Women’s Health Care

What is it that makes women’s health care so much more expensive?

It depends on the age of the women, but women may be paying for additional medical care like OB/Gyn exams, pap smears, mammograms, bone density scans. There can also be the cost of birth control, which costs women an additional $1,600 per year. Then if there’s a pregnancy, the cost can be $14,000 to $25,000

womens health Shopping for Womens Health Care PhotoBut aren’t many preventative scans for women covered under the ACA?

The problem is that someone pays. Nothing is free. That’s why premiums and deductibles are skyrocketing. They’re keeping pace with costs. Some of that is the ACA mandating that preventative services be covered. Some of it is the growing prevalence of lifestyle diseases like obesity and high blood pressure.

We can’t see the doctor more and expect to pay less. It will never add up.

What can women – and men – do to reduce the cost of their care?

They can shop. That’s something that everyone needs to be doing more. Vitals’ Book of Business found that people who shopped for mammograms saved over $60, on average. That may not seem like a lot, but there are 16 million mammograms each year. Women could save the system over $1 billion in overpriced care on just mammograms alone.

The same holds true for bone density scans where people who shopped saved $130, on average.

What is Vitals doing to help people find cost-effective care?

One of the biggest things were doing now is offering incentives to people who chose cost-effective care. We’re looking to change behavior and – as every good economist knows – the way to do that is through incentives.

Getting a good deal is a powerful thing. In fact, 61 percent of the people who used Vitals SmartShopper in 2013 shopped again for a medical episode through the incentive program in 2014. And what we hope to see come from this is that a market emerges where pricing will become fair.