A new web site means more access to your health care costs. It's a move by hospitals statewide to help consumers manage their own care.
The web site, www.wipricepoint.org, allows you to shop around for the cost of a number of medical procedures at hospitals statewide.
Mary Kay Grasmick of the Wisconsin Hospital Association says, "Wisconsin hospitals have made a big commitment to being transparent, that is making sure people know as much about their hospitalization as they can."
The site is easy to use. Click on your area, choose a hospital, pick your procedure, and you can see your typical length of stay and that hospital's charge. Try a different hospital and you can compare prices.
Grasmick says, "We believe we've provided at least a good start for people to begin to know how hospital charges factor in to what they're eventually going to pay."
The prices may surprise you. But Grasmick says keep in mind, they're the list price, not the price you or your insurer pays.
"What they have to factor in is, 'What my insurance company will pay, what's my copay, what's my deductible.'"
Here is what you should take into account before you choose a hospital. Does you physician go to that hospital? Is it close to your home? And is it covered under your health care plan?
Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Physicians Plus Insurance Corporation, Dr. Ron Parton, says, "Insurance arrangements are variable so consumers really need to consult their own health plan and insurance companies to know what the true costs are."
The true meaning of the web site: to help you ask the right questions and plan ahead.
"Hospitals have taken a big step forward and we would expect there would be other health care providers who will also follow in that lead," says Grasmick.
Also keep in mind many patients have the same procedure but a very different bill. That's because every person is different. And you may have another condition that can complicate your stay.