Why Price Transparency Is a Win for Health Care Providers

The benefits of openness when it comes to the cost of various procedures in the healthcare marketplace are obvious for consumers. HealthCost organizes pricing information and other data from providers to ensure consumers can make smart decisions for themselves that balance health concerns with monetary.

Saint Peters healthcare SystemBut what’s in it for providers? Aren’t they naturally better served by the status quo, which allows for mystery and confusion around price and ultimately leads to consumers accepting what’s offered because it’s their health and they don’t want to ask too many questions?

Some of the nation’s biggest healthcare stakeholders don’t believe so. They believe in transparency, recognize that the current model is unsustainable, and know that smart consumers will ultimately choose providers that are open and honest about what healthcare costs.

Among these stakeholders is U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar II. During a speech in March to the Federation of American Hospitals, Azar outlined a multi-pronged strategy to shift the industry paradigm from one that pays for procedures to one that pays for value. Price transparency is one important piece of this shift.

In his remarks, Azar compared the experience of shopping for healthcare to eating at a restaurant. “Imagine if, after you’re seated, you have to order before knowing what anything costs—indeed, before ever seeing the menu. And once your bill finally does arrive, not only are you paying for your appetizer, entrée, and dessert—you get a surprise bill from the off-site pastry chef, too,” he says. “No one would ever put up with such a system.”

Several providers are already there. HealthCost recently partnered with Zwanger-Pesiri Radiology, Saint Peter’s Healthcare System in New Brunswick and Orthopedic Associates of Dutchess County—three highly respected, cutting-edge medical providers located in the greater New York City area that have chosen to embrace the future of the healthcare marketplace, one that will be defined by transparency and choice.

As these partnerships blossom and benefit all parties, HealthCost continues to develop and seek out new partnerships that will provide consumers with what Bill Moore, founding partner of HealthCost, calls a “uniquely active” form of price transparency in healthcare.

Other models and services provide the average cost of a procedure, instead of the exact cost of the same procedure across facilities and physicians in a particular geographic area. Moore uses a colonoscopy in New Jersey, as an example. “You have $2,300 on one end and $11,000 all the way out on the other end. That makes the mean cost around $6,600,” he says. “If we tell people they can have a colonoscopy in New Jersey for $6,600, and they have one for closer to $11,000, we’ve helped no one.”

That’s what makes HealthCost special, and it’s why the participating provider network is expanding. As technology continues to improve and develop, consumers become smarter. As Secretary Azar says, “There is no more powerful force than an informed consumer.” And as this always-expanding group of informed consumers drive the marketplace, they’ll choose providers that are open with them about price. They’ll choose HealthCost and its partners.

 

 

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

HealthCost Launches New York/New Jersey Network with Three Top Healthcare Providers

NEW YORK CITY (April  30, 2018)HealthCost, the only health care network offering an open marketplace for setting, comparing, and locking-in healthcare costs, is announcing partnerships with Zwanger-Pesiri Radiology, Saint Peter’s Healthcare System in New Brunswick and Orthopedic Associates of Dutchess County. All three are highly respected, cutting-edge medical providers located in the greater New York City area.

transparencyFor the first time, through these partnerships, each facility will be able to control its HealthCost Network pricing based on the true value of its staff’s experience and the quality of its care and facilities.  Douglas Tardio, one of the founders at HealthCost, states “After decades of managed care companies and the government  telling healthcare providers what they were willing to pay, we thought it was time for healthcare providers to set their own rates and be able to change them at any time.”  “Our offer is simple, let us help gain access to additional patients, including the millions of uninsured, self-insured small businesses, out-of-network and other self-pay consumers at rates you determine.”

Meanwhile, consumers will now be able to utilize HealthCost.com or download the HealthCost app to search for the exact cost of individual healthcare procedures at these facilities, compare how pricing for the same procedure changes at other local facilities and lock in prices in advance of the delivery of care.

As these partnerships blossom and benefit all parties, HealthCost continues to develop and provide consumers with what Bill Moore, founding partner of HealthCost, calls a “uniquely active” form of price transparency in healthcare.  “We are not about sharing the average cost of a procedure in a market.”  “Instead, we offer consumers the opportunity to shop for and now directly purchase healthcare services at HealthCost.com.”  We look forward to partnering with additional healthcare providers throughout the New York/New Jersey market and offering a new path forward for both healthcare practitioners and the patients they serve.”

About HealthCost:

HealthCost was formed when six healthcare veterans joined forces in 2016 around the shared belief that a free, transparent healthcare marketplace could complement traditional plan-based solutions for consumers. The tech startup aims at bringing simple, borderless, and market driven choice to every consumer for the most common healthcare procedures. HealthCost.com includes searchable charges and quality data provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), however, providers have the ability to join the network to set and manage their own rates.

 

 

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

3 Common Back Problems and How You Can Address Them

The spine is a critical part of our skeletal structure for the way it supports our weight, helps us move, and protects our central nervous system from damage. For all these reasons, it’s important to keep the back strong and stable, but from poor exercise posture to the simple, unavoidable creaks that come with age, we’re always doing things that cause back pain.

back problems Sometimes that pain is minor and dissipates with time and a little ice or heat, but in many cases, a visit to a medical doctor or chiropractor is in order, and when that happens, you could be looking at a period of in-office treatment or even a surgical procedure.

The goal of HealthCost is to help you understand your options in the healthcare marketplace. That means you can search for the exact cost of individual healthcare procedures, compare how pricing for the same procedure changes from facility to facility, and soon lock in prices for what you need, and for those suffering from serious back pain, we now have 30,000 chiropractors whose services and prices you can review and compare.

There are dozens of back problems you might be experiencing, but these three are among the most common. Continue reading to learn more about them and the various procedures you might pursue in order to obtain some much-needed relief.

Strain or sprain
These typically occur when you’re lifting something heavy, performing a physical activity your body isn’t used to, or getting hit hard in the lower back area, usually during sports or something similar. Chronic strain may develop over time due to poor posture, but like most strains and sprains, pain may only flair up if you aggravate it due to exertion.

The difference between a strain and a sprain relates to the tissue that tears or stretches. The former involves the muscles in the lumbar (lower) area of the back. (That’s why a strain is also known as a pulled muscle.) The latter occurs when ligaments, which connect the bones, are stretched or torn. To diagnose, a doctor may order an X-ray or MRI, in addition to performing a routine physical. These tests can be costly, depending on where you have them performed and by whom, and the HealthCost marketplace can help you find the best and most affordable choice near you.

Herniated disc
More serious than a strain or sprain, a herniated disc occurs when the outer fibers of a spinal disc are damaged and the soft material inside the disc ruptures out, sometimes into the spinal canal. The human spine has 24 discs, and they’re separated into three sections – from top to bottom, the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar.

Herniated discs most commonly occur in the lumbar, and when they do, they tend to cause shooting pain down your leg. An imaging test will be performed to detect herniated discs. Notably, x-rays don’t detect them, but they may still be performed to rule out other causes of back pain, such as an infection, tumor, spinal alignment issues, or a broken bone.

After diagnosis, you may be advised to see if the pain goes away on its own, but surgery – more specifically, a laminectomy or discectomy, both of which you can price with HealthCost – is needed in some cases to repair the disc.

While herniated discs in the thoracic section of the spine are less common than lumbar ones, surgery to treat them is more common. These herniated discs tend to be marked by problems urinating or defecating. A transthoracic decompression will be performed in most cases. This procedure involves removing part of the problem disc and decompressing the spinal cord.

Spinal nerve compression
This condition can affect all three sections of the spine and occurs when the nerves in your spine are pinched or pressure affects them in a way that causes local pain and numbness in your extremities.

The most common cause of spinal nerve compression (or spinal cord compression) is osteoarthritis, which means this condition tends to develop gradually and is most common with men and women over 50. More acute cases of spinal nerve compression can occur due to a spinal tumor, infection, or scoliosis.

To diagnose spinal cord compression, your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your symptoms and do a complete physical exam.  After a physical exam and consultation with your physician, he or she may order an x-ray, MRI, or CT scan to diagnose. Treatment will vary depending on the cause of the compression. Physical therapy to strengthen the back, as well as the affected extremities, is common, while surgery is sometimes also necessary in order to lengthen the amount of space between vertebrae, which should relieve the pressure on the nerves.

Check out HealthCost’s search tool to learn more about your options and find the lowest-cost, highest-quality of these and other spine and back procedures in your area.

 

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

How Much Do CAT Scans Really Cost?

The CAT scan is an invaluable tool for diagnosing stokes, monitoring both cancerous and non-cancerous growths, pinpointing the exact location of blood clots in the lungs, and detecting herniated discs, among many other procedures.

CAT scanAs many as 80 million CAT scans are performed annually in the United States, and that number should continue increasing if recent history is any indicator. According to data published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, doctors ordered CAT scans at a rate of 149 tests per thousand patients in 2010, which was up nearly three times from the 1996 rate of 52 scans per thousand patients.

But as it is with most things medical, cost is source of confusion, concern, and frustration for many potential patients. Why are some CAT scans so expensive? And better yet, why is there such a range of prices for CAT scans?

HealthCost has the information and the tools you need to make an intelligent and informed decision as a healthcare consumer. Here’s what you need to know.

How Much Should I Expect to Pay for a CAT Scan?

The cost of a CAT scan can be broken into two parts. The first is the cost for the use of the scanner/equipment. The second is the cost the physician charges to interpret the information from the scan. When billed in a freestanding imaging center you might receive one combined bill for both. When you have a scan at the hospital you will most likely receive two bills. A CT scanner is an expensive piece of equipment – several million dollars up front for equipment and installation, plus annual costs in the hundreds of thousands for maintenance. As such, hospitals and imaging centers need to balance consumer pricing with patient volume in order to recoup these costs.

A CAT scan can cost between $200 and $400 on the low end or as high as $7,000. The dramatic variance is the result of a number of factors, the biggest of which is the type of scan being done. Neither medical providers nor insurance companies consider all CAT scans equal. There are several dozen types of CAT scans – brain, chest, heart, neck, leg, pelvis, and more. Each requires a certain amount of time and skill to appropriately capture the images necessary for diagnosis.

Some – including the CT angiography (CTA) scan that looks at blood vessels to try to prevent major cardiovascular events – require contrast for more precise imaging. This ends up being another cost passed on to the consumer.

Insurance typically covers most or all of the cost of a CAT scan, but this isn’t always the case. If there is a balance on your bill, it’s most likely because your insurance provider has deemed the procedure to be not medically necessary, setting you back hundreds – sometimes thousands – of dollars. This may become more common going forward as insurers are starting to evaluate the enormous cost differences between CAT scans at hospitals and those done at standalone imaging centers. Anthem, for instance, has dropped coverage of the former in some states without preauthorization.

Price also tends to vary due to location. Geographical differences in healthcare costs are nothing new, but for something with high overhead like a CAT scan, rural areas may see larger than normal disparities compared to their urban counterparts. That’s largely because there are fewer options – the nearest imaging center may be 100 miles away or more – and because patient volume can be low, requiring the service provider to offset its costs in other, consumer-facing ways.

As our search feature will show you, the difference in cost for a scan of the abdomen with contrast in the city of Chicago compared to one about 45 minutes outside the city, in Oak Lawn, Illinois, is huge – $210 vs. $505. That’s almost $300 dollars you can save by using HealthCost to shop around for your best option.

Do I Really Need a CAT Scan?

The “CAT” in CAT scan stands for computerized axial tomography, which is one way of saying this procedure examines cross-sections of your body. The images generated are impossible to capture via a traditional x-ray machine. Previously, these angles were only accessible through invasive procedures, and since the technology became available to practitioners in the 1970s, the images have gotten more and more precise and examined issues and abnormalities on increasingly detailed levels.

But should you have one? That’s a conversation every patient should have with his or her doctor. For instance, there’s increasing debate about whether CAT scans are the safest way to image the body because of the radiation they produce, which is, according to one expert, more than 500 times higher than that of an x-ray machine.

However, if the CAT scan is what you feel like you need, don’t let the cost scare you away from what could be a valuable tool for preventing or fending off something potentially serious. HealthCost can help you cut through the confusion of the marketplace and find a high-quality, low-cost provider near you.

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

What Can I Expect From a Colonoscopy?

There are a number of different colon cancer screenings – including the flexible sigmoidoscopy and the x-ray barium enema – that can detect cancerous lesions and polyps, but there are a few reasons why the colonoscopy is the most common of these procedures.

ColonoscopyFirst, it looks at the entirety of the colon and rectum vs. just a portion of either. Unlike other screenings, it also allows medical professionals to remove cancerous lesions and polyps if any are detected, and the colonoscopy can spot and remove various abnormalities that aren’t yet cancerous but may become so in time.

The American Cancer Society recommends all adults over 50 begin having regular colon cancer screenings, and for all of these reasons, the colonoscopy is the most commonly conducted colon cancer screening. According to the The New York Times, 55 percent of Americans ages 50 to 65 received this test in 2010 – more than three times the rate from a decade earlier, which signals an embrace of this particular screening’s effectiveness by both medical professionals and the public at large.

This is all to say that a colonoscopy can be extremely important. Colon cancer is preventable when detected early and can be deadly when detected too late or not detected at all. And because it’s such an effective and in-demand exam, its price tag can be mighty intimidating.

Here’s everything you need to know about getting a colonoscopy, including how you can use HealthCost to find the best, most cost-effective option near you.

How Does a Colonoscopy Work?

The actual screening is relatively short. A doctor uses a colonoscope, which is a flexible tube about the circumference of your finger that has a very small camera on the end of it, to send images of the inside of your colon to a television screen. Patients are put to sleep for the duration of the test, which lasts approximately 30-60 minutes. For this reason, colonoscopies are pretty painless, though during the procedure, the doctor puffs air into the colon to keep it open for the camera. This may cause some minor cramping that goes away after a short while.

More time-consuming is preparation for a colonoscopy, which is necessary because the cleaner the images are, the more accurate the screening will be. Bowel prep takes many different forms. Patients will be asked to refrain from eating high-fiber foods for a few days in advance of the procedure. On the day before and the day of, no solid foods should be consumed. (Instead, stick to broths, juices, Jell-O, etc.) And patients will also be asked to drink an intense laxative that will initiate diarrhea. You will go over the specific details of your bowel prep plan with your doctor in advance of your colonoscopy, and any questions about it should be directed to him or her.

You will need to be driven home following the test because you went under, and you should plan on staying home for the rest of the day until the drugs wear off.

How Much Does a Colonoscopy Cost?

The average cost of a colonoscopy is in the range of $3,000, but as with all medical procedures, this one costs something different depending on a variety of factors.

The first is your location. Variance occurs here because a colonoscopy can be done in a hospital or at a doctor’s office or outpatient facility. In HealthCost’s search tool, a colonoscopy in an outpatient center in Atlanta may cost around $1,500, while the same procedure by the same doctor in a hospital is between three and four times that amount.

Another factor in the overall price is the exact type of procedure being done. Will a biopsy be conducted? Will polyps be removed? Is it a preventative screening? Or is it being done to address certain symptoms?

The overall cost of the procedure generally includes fees for your prep kit, sedation (and who’s administering it), analysis of any tissue that’s removed, and use of the facility and its resources. You can use HealthCost’s search tool to weigh the options that are near you.

What Happens After a Colonoscopy?

You may begin eating solid foods after your procedure, though most doctors recommend taking it easy on your digestive system with gentle, low-fiber foods, including soup, crackers, popsicles, and more. You also need to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. After two or three days, your system should be back to normal.

Your doctor will review the images, and a lab will analyze any small polyps during the procedure. If the analysis comes back negative, you won’t need another colonoscopy for about ten years. You may need to come in sooner – six months, a year, five years, depending on what your doctor sees – if the images aren’t completely clear or if any polyps appear to be pre-cancerous.

In rare cases, large polyps will not be able to be removed during the colonoscopy, but a doctor will take a biopsy. If that comes back as cancerous, you may need to have it removed surgically.

 

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

The Price of an MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a valuable tool that helps physicians diagnose a variety of conditions by providing quality snapshots of internal organs and other bodily structures. Like other forms of diagnostic imaging (X-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds, etc.), MRIs have seen a surge in usage over the past decade, and, as MRIs have become more commonly used in diagnostics, patients have seen a rise in costs. As the MRI becomes more routine, a talk of costs becomes more topical. Before you schedule your future MRI, it’s important to consider the following.

MRIHow much does an MRI cost?

There are many variations on an MRI diagnostic: the location being scanned, use of contrast, and type of facility performing the MRI all influence the exact pricing for the procedure. As a general rule, however, an MRI performed in a hospital will typically have a higher price tag than those performed in standalone imaging centers. Prices will also increase with the use of contrast.

The national average, for example, for a brain MRI without contrast is about $1,400. If you add contrast to that same procedure, the national average increases to $2,300.

You can use the HealthCost search feature to find the exact price of a specific MRI procedure at a location near you.

What goes into the cost of an MRI?

MRI machines are one of the most expensive pieces of equipment to purchase and operate in a hospital’s entire imaging department. The upfront cost for the machine itself can range from $150,000 to $3 million, depending on the specific unit. Once purchased, the facility then needs to figure out where to put it. Because of the machine’s large, awkward shape and powerful magnetic field, facilities have to house it in a specially designed room—called an MRI suite—that complements its shape and contains the magnetic field.

For patients, this can mean a costly diagnostic procedure, especially when compared to other imaging diagnostics, such as X-rays or CT scans. However, there are certain conditions where an MRI scan may provide more detail than an X-ray or CT scan, making it the preferred procedure. We recommend speaking with your doctor to determine the best course of diagnostics.

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Top Five Reasons to Visit a Urologist

Urology is the specialty of medicine that focuses on the urinary tract—the bladder, kidney, urethra, and associated organs—and the male reproductive organs like the testes, prostate and penis. Because urologists specialize in male sexual organs—among other things—it’s a common misconception that the specialty is simply the male counterpart to a gynecologist. However, this is a false assumption that could prevent many women from receiving the most qualified care for many urinary tract issues.

Men and women can benefit in a variety of ways from the specialized care a urologist can provide. To help understand the scope of their care, here are five common reasons it might be a good idea to make an appointment with a urologist in your area today.

1) Because your primary care physician tells you to

Urologist

This one may seem like a no brainer, but it’s overlooked enough that it bears pointing out. One of the key responsibilities of your primary care physician (PCP) is to coordinate your care among different specialties. Whenever a patient has an issue that requires more specialized expertise, it is the responsibility of the PCP to make recommendations of which specialists to visit and to help coordinate your care among the various specialties.

If your PCP recommends that you visit a urologist, it’s clear that they think there’s an issue beyond their typical scope. So, it’s important to follow that recommendation. In many cases, your PCP’s office may make the appointment with a urologist for you. In other cases, they may leave that up to you. Regardless, it’s important to get the appointment scheduled and stick to it even if the symptoms seem to subside.

2) When you’re having recurrent urinary tract infections

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that occurs in any of the organs associated with the urinary system. Depending on where the UTI specifically occurs, they can produce symptoms like foul smelling or discolored urine, pain in the lower stomach or back, an increased need to urinate, or pain during urination. UTIs aren’t that uncommon in women—although they shouldn’t occur frequently—and, in men, they’re relatively rare, especially before the age of 50.

While a single UTI is probably not cause to see a specialist, multiple UTIs in a brief time span may warrant the need to make a urology appointment. A urologist will be able to more accurately pinpoint where in the urinary tract the infection is occurring and work to find the root cause of the recurrent infections. If you’ve suffered from multiple UTIs, your urologist can also make sure your frequent and repeat infections haven’t permanently damaged your urinary system – which could be amplifying your symptoms.

3) If you’re a male and notice any change in your testes

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men between the ages of 20-39 years old. That’s why it’s important for men to familiarize themselves with their anatomy so that they can easily identify any changes that may signal a serious condition.

Testicular cancer is extremely curable, especially if caught early. That’s why if you notice any lumps or bumps on your testicles it’s vital to make an appointment with a urologist who can examine you further.

There are other changes to the testes that aren’t signs of cancer that still should be examined by a urologist. Pain, swelling, or changes in the texture of the testes are all symptoms that merit further examination. When making an appointment with a urologist, be sure to explain the symptoms in detail on the phone—some symptoms are more urgent than others and may necessitate being seen sooner than others. If you’re having trouble being seen quickly, you can often work with your PCP who can help you assess the urgency and, if needed, work with a urologist to get you scheduled sooner rather than later.

4) When your urinary habits suddenly change

Everyone is different, and urination frequency depends on a wide variety of factors. On average, most people urinate between 7-10 times a day. If you’ve found that you always go more or less frequently than average, that’s not necessarily cause for concern. However, if you suddenly find yourself having to go significantly more or less than you used to, then it may be time to see a urologist.

It’s also important to consider more than just frequency. Other urination related changes to look for include:

  • A change in the effort required for urination (a need to “push” harder)
  • A frequent sensation or feeling the need to urinate, with little or no urine produced
  • A harder time controlling urination: accidental urination, or a harder time stopping once started

Each of these symptoms could be signs of conditions that a urologist is best qualified to diagnose and treat.

5) If you’re a man over the age of 40

Once men approach the age of 40, the risk for a variety of urological diseases increases. As a specialist in both urinary systems and the male reproductive system, urologists screen men for a variety of these diseases and talk with you about your family history, diet, lifestyle and other risk factors to consider in your overall health.

Once you hit 40, it’s important to get screened, even without symptoms, so that you and your urologist can understand what’s normal for your body. Even slight changes from a baseline can signal that something may need closer attention.

At 40, you should also begin to undergo regular prostate screenings to check for inflammation and other signs of cancer. As you age, the risk for sexual dysfunction also increases and can be assessed and treated by a urologist.

How to find a urologist

When choosing any doctor there are a number of considerations to keep in mind: location, price and quality are key factors that determine the overall satisfaction you’ll have with your urologist. Use HealthCost to search for a urologist in a specific area, find a price that works for your budget and review quality ratings from other patients.

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Why You Need a Regular Eye Exam

May is Healthy Vision Month and whether you’re preparing to send your kids to camp or just going about your normal summer business, it’s a good time to think about your eye health. While there are different schools of thought from ophthalmologists and optometrists on how often you should get an eye exam, it’s clear that regular visits are important.

eye exam

We’ve already explained the difference between the different types of eye healthcare professionals, but you may still be wondering why you need an eye exam in the first place. To answer that, you have to take a second to appreciate how special the eye really is.

The eyes are a window into your body

The unique positioning of the eyes to the brain, as well as the high number of blood vessels in the area, makes the eyes a great indicator of a variety of health issues. A look into your eyes by a trained professional can help identify early stages of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Recent research even suggests that certain scans of the eye could be an early detector of Alzheimer’s.

That’s not to mention the variety of eye health issues that, if not caught during a regular screening, could result in serious health complications. Cataracts, retinal detachment, glaucoma, and more are all screened for during routine eye checkups. In each case, early detection can save you from damage to your eyes and vision.

Eyesight changes throughout your life

As a young child you may have had perfect vision but then found the need for corrective glasses to take notes in college, or as a once-vibrant, eagle-eyed 20-something you could suddenly find reading the computer screen a strain in your forties. Everyone’s experience is different.

Poor vision can also have a negative impact on your ability to drive and react to sudden changes in your environment. If you can’t see well, it could even prevent you from excelling in work or school. For those already wearing glasses or contacts, an outdated prescription can lead to eye strain, headaches and blurred vision.

Modern lifestyles present unique eye risks

The device on which you’re reading this article presents another reason to have routine eye exams. The screens on our phones, tablets and computers emit blue and violet light at such a high-energy and short wavelength that it is causing, what doctors are referring to as, digital eye strain.

Digital eye strain is known to cause headaches, blurred or doubled vision, and eye fatigue. These symptoms are often temporary and minor, but overexposure to computer light can also lead to more serious conditions like macular degeneration.

Protect your eyes

With each of these compelling explanations of what an eye exam will detect, you can begin to see the importance of routine eye care appointments. The best way to keep your eyes healthy—and have confidence that there isn’t an underlying issue—is with regular screening. Making an appointment today could be the first step to protecting your vision—and your health—for years to come.

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

What Makes HealthCost Different?

Although healthcare price transparency networks aren’t unique in and of themselves, HealthCost is the only network offering actual costs. In this 90-second clip, our founding partner, Bill Moore, discusses the HealthCost difference and how it empowers healthcare providers and consumers to take control of their costs.

Footage courtesy of Health Datapalooza 2017.

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

What’s the Difference Between an Optometrist and Ophthalmologist?

By HealthCost

August is National Eye Exam Month and Cataracts Awareness Month. It’s a great reminder to take a moment to schedule an appointment for an important regular eye exam.

But who should you see? In the realm of eye health, there are two primary types of medical professionals: optometrists and ophthalmologists. Each are highly trained specialists with their own benefits. Because they sound so similar, it can be confusing to understand who does what.

Optometrist

There are more than 36,000 optometrists in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Optometrists perform eye exams, treat conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, and diagnose eye conditions like cataracts, glaucoma and retinopathy. In most states, optometrists can prescribe medicine for certain eye conditions.

In addition to undergraduate study, optometrists complete four years of postgraduate study to receive a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree. While this degree does not make an optometrist a medical doctor, optometrists must pass nationally administered exams to gain licensing and adhere to strict standards—just like a medical doctor—to remain in practice. For many patients, an optometrist may be the only eye care professional they ever need to see. For others, optometrists may be the first to notice a critical issue requiring the care of an ophthalmologist.

Ophthalmologist

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of the eye. While they can perform routine eye exams, they are highly trained and specialized in more complex eye health issues. This includes surgery on the eye, LASIK vision correction, removal of cataracts, or surgery related to eye trauma or burns. They can prescribe medications to treat eye conditions. Currently, there are more than 23,000 ophthalmologists practicing in the United States, according to the American Medical Association.

After completing undergraduate study, an ophthalmologist goes on to medical school like any physician. After becoming licensed physicians, a doctor must complete three or more years of special residency to become an ophthalmologist.

Working Together

Optometrists and ophthalmologists work together to provide care for patients. In many cases, an optometrist will perform routine exams and prescribe eyeglasses and contacts while referring patients whose eye exams turn up issues to the ophthalmologist who can then provide specialized care. An optometrist may assist an ophthalmologist with pre- or post-operative eye care for those who need surgery. If you’re looking for a place to start and just need a routine exam, it’s often best to start with an optometrist, who will let you know if you need to see an ophthalmologist.

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.