23 May 2012

Is That Your Final Answer?

23 May 2012

I stopped watching “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” after Regis left. But it’s undeniable how aspects of that show have lingered well beyond its heyday on primetime TV. I can’t count how many times I’ve been jokingly asked to use one of my lifelines. One of my favorite parts of the show was when he would ask “Is that your final answer?” Mainly because I’d never heard anyone say no. Over time I started wishing someone would say “Why do you ask Regis, is there something you know that I don’t?”

Sometimes when I visit medical cost estimation websites, I have the urge to ask “Is that your final answer?” In my experience, the prices these websites quote are often significantly different from what’s eventually billed. However, American Medical News brings news of change on the horizon. Last week they reported that “health insurers have replaced online tools that showed only rough guesses as to how much a doctor’s visit will cost with new ones that estimate specific dollar amounts for both overall and patient out-of-pocket costs.”

“During the past year, several health plans have released new versions or made significant updates to their cost estimation tools. The newer tools show not just a negotiated price but also the anticipated cost to a patient based on his or her benefit plan, as well as how much of the deductible is met.”

Although each estimate comes with a no guarantee disclaimer, I’m encouraged to see insurers make an effort in offering more accurate estimations. I’d hate to have to use another lifeline the next time I get slapped with a bill for more than what I’d planned for.

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