Patrick Fontana twisted his left knee last spring while hitting a drive down the fairway on a golf course in Columbus, Ohio. But what really pained him was the $900 bill for diagnostic imaging ordered by his doctor. Fontana, a 42-year-old salesman, has a high-deductible health plan coupled to a health savings account. Since he was nowhere near meeting his deductible, he was on the hook for the entire bill. So he did something that insurance companies routinely do: he forwarded the bill to a claims adjuster, in this case My Medical Control, a Web-based company that reviews doctor and hospital bills for consumers.
After concluding that Fontana was not getting the best possible price, the companys representatives called the imaging facility and demanded a lower one, promptly saving him $200minus a 35% collection fee. The savings are possible for one reason: medical care is often priced with the same maddening, arbitrary opacity as airline seats and hotel rooms.
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