You probably didn't know price transparency was being utilized for any health care services, much less cosmetic services! But it's true. Consumers are demanding price transparency — knowing how much services are going to cost before they get said service. It seems like a novel idea but we know the cost of a service ahead of time in every other industry. Somehow, medicine was the exception, until now.
Initial Objections to Price Transparency in the Cosmetic Space
When our practice started our journey along the path of price transparency, we started within the realm of cosmetic services. Cosmetics is easier in the sense that patients pay the cost out of pocket. There is no insurance middleman. Still, doctors said giving the consumer pricing info ahead of time was too difficult. What if the patient isn't a candidate for that procedure? What if they need more than one syringe of filler? While these are examples of potential obstacles in rolling out price transparency initiatives, they aren't strong arguments.
What if the patient isn't a candidate for the procedure they checking pricing for? Then you'll educate the patient regarding the correct procedure, just as you would with any patient with unrealistic expectations, regardless of whether they knew cost ahead of time.
What if they need two syringes of filler? Then list the price for one syringe of filler as well as for two syringes of filler! As long as you're providing accurate estimates, it's worthwhile, actionable information for the patient. They will understand if the estimated price they saw ahead of time doesn't match the price given after the consultation — as long as the price difference is due to the doctor recommending a more appropriate procedure that is significantly different than the patient's preconceived expectation. Conversely, if the pre-consultation procedure is the same as what the doctor recommends and the price is different, then that's probably an example of a bait and switch.
How Price Transparency Works Across All Health Care Sectors
If there were ever any doubts that you couldn't provide useful pricing information for medically necessary outpatient services typically paid out of pocket because the consumer hadn't met their deductible, then doubt no more! Enter, the Ohio Surgery Center and Georgia SurgiCare. Both providers/facilities provide pricing information in the form of a Price Estimator on their website.
The unique aspect of how they showcase their pricing is that the consumer gets instant, automated pricing information but only after the consumer provides their contact info. So the prospective patient gets what they want immediately, satisfying that need for instant gratification. And the provider gets the consumer's contact info, a lead for follow up. Everyone wins.
These two facilities provide their pricing in two different ways. And that's the point. Everyone can embrace price transparency in their own way and generate a lead in the process. That's price transCAREncy! In the case of Ohio Surgery Center, the consumer can choose their insurance plan and then the procedure of interest. After the prospective patient enters their contact info, they receive an email with the allowables that the Ohio Surgery Center can charge for the doctor's fee, the anesthesiologist's fee, and the OR fee based on that procedure and insurance plan. Pretty slick!
And in the case of Georgia SurgiCare, their website allows the consumer to check pricing on procedures from their multi-specialty clinic. They include procedures such as bariatric or general surgery services, as well as gynecological services. While the more medically necessary services are presented as bundled rates that include the MD, OR, and anesthesia fees, their cosmetic services are shown as "simple" out of pocket fees.
No More Excuses
Price transparency, as demonstrated above, can be showcased in multiple ways. From insurance allowables specific to the consumer's insurance plan to bundled or fee-for-service prices. It's not a matter of “will it happen?” It's happening! Join the #PriceTransCAREncy revolution!
Dr. Jonathan Kaplan is a board-certified plastic surgeon based in San Francisco, CA and founder/CEO of BuildMyBod Health, an online marketplace for health care services that allows consumers to determine cost on out-of-pocket procedures, purchase non-surgical services, and in exchange, the health care providers receive consumer contact info - a lead, for follow up.
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