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December 2013
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Medical Bills: Are We Really Better Off With the Mechanic?

Dr. Davis Liu has an interesting blog on the trend towards asking patients to “shop around” for their healthcare, comparing it to a recent visit to his mechanic:

My car dealer service advisor returns. The battery and the fog light are not available until the next day. It will take him at least until tomorrow before the car can be returned. Here was the price. Evidentially, BMW batteries are not cheap. It isn’t like I could go compare battery prices and drive around town to get it installed. I would have to jump start the car each time to make it happen.

As I give the verbal consent to being the process, my service advisor also tells me that there were two other issues. As the mechanic was evaluating my car, he noticed that hose that contains steering wheel fluid was leaking. It was not clear how long that was occurring. Also, since they noticed I was due for a tire rotation and brake inspection, he did that as well. The rear brake pads were just 3 mm and would need replacement. What did I want to do?

Now, what am I supposed to do? I could ask how much it would cost, but the cost must be relative to what? Is it based on how likely I felt going without repair would or would not be risky? It is based on how much money I had available in my bank account? It is based on my belief that my car dealer is trying to get more money out of me? Is it possible other auto repair shops might have better prices? Though I could shop around, I wouldn’t know what to make of a higher or lower price. Is a lower price better than a higher one? How am I supposed to tell the difference? How do I judge quality? I’m not a mechanic. I don’t have a friend who is a mechanic.

The Limits of Consumer Driven Health Care – A Trip to the Car Mechanic

Do you think healthcare is like being at the mechanic’s? Tell us about it in our discussion forum!

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  4. Trying to Cut Your Medical Bills? A Medical Billing Advocate May Be Able to Help
  5. One in Five Struggles To Pay Medical Bills

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