Thursday, May 17, 2012

How to Shop for Affordable Healthcare

Written by Sara McFarland

There is something about the way department stores lay out bright new necklaces and that way the light catches the season’s hottest heels, that can turn the average woman into Carrie Bradshaw with a suddenly bottomless pocket book.  Sometimes a gal can’t help it. We love to shop. However, the smart shopper in every woman also knows that she can’t splurge unless its an amazing deal. It’s 75% off of $4,000. How can I not get it?

So, it’s no big surprise to learn that women are also considered the healthcare shopping authority in most families. Female voices in healthcare debates have already been heard in 2012, just think about the online media and blogging world uproar that surrounded the Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood debacle. In other news, healthcare changes and the downward spiral of the medical economy have led to the commercialization and consumerism of healthcare services.  This has forced healthcare providers to market their services in new ways, and guess who they are targeting. Women.  By tapping into social media and e-commerce, healthcare marketing professionals are positioning commonly price-shopped procedures like Mammograms, MRIs and Ultrasounds just like Nordstrom positions gotta-have stilettos and cocktail dresses.

We’ll let the statistics speak for themselves, proving that health care marketing professionals are on the right track. A Kaiser Family Health Report sates that a shocking 80% of mothers say they are responsible for all healthcare choices in their family and 21% of all women say they are spending serious time price shopping for their care. But it doesn’t take statistics to prove that women are the decision-makers in these cases. Simply look at your family’s history of patient care, it was probably your mother that took you to appointments and helped you find doctors when you moved away from home the first time. Even if making those important decisions seemed daunting when you were younger, you are now taking control the same way your mother did for you. 

Luckily for you, the mystically, cryptic worlds of medical costs are fading away thanks to industry challenges, allowing for transparency in the system to ring true.  This means that women can now get the same deals on medical care that they can find on designer clothes, if they know where to look.  After all, bargain shopping is all about knowing the secret spots.

Women account for 57% of Internet users, spend 2% more time online each day than males and are spending 12.5% of that time on e-commerce. E-commerce activity encompasses everything from price shopping to purchasing goods online, so it makes sense that sites like Save On Medical would be targeting price-sensitive patients through the Internet.  When women shop, they want the best product possible at an affordable price.  Unfortunately, consumerism has taught us that the more expensive the product, the more luxury the item and then the more we want to have it.  This engrained belief is simply not true in regards to healthcare, where often times there is absolutely no correlation between price and quality care. 

It’s easy to find half-off deals for Tory Burch Reva Flats on eBay, but the likelihood that they are knock-offs is high.  Similarly, healthcare grading and pricing online could be convoluted and misleading before, but new sites like Save On Medical and Brighter are becoming invaluable resources for patients.  They help patients find quality grades for physicians and dentists respectively, with accurate pricing, deals and the ability to book and then save money by paying online through secure portals. The common misconceptions regarding price and quality in healthcare can lead patients to getting trapped with medical bills that look like a Paris Hilton shopping spree at Neiman Marcus. No one wants to spend years paying off an MRI that cost $2,213 when you could have spent $300 at an equally as qualified and more personal facility. (Yes, that is a real price variation in Tampa, Florida.)

When you know what to look for and where to go for the best deals, you will be in the best position possible to save money.  As women and mothers, we account for the majority of Internet, couponing and shopping population, so it is important to be well-informed shoppers and take advantage of the power we hold in the market.  That way you have more money left over to spend on the fun things in life, like that trip to the spa you’ve been fantasizing about for months.

About the author:
Sara McFarland works as the Communications Specialist for the healthcare practice management company, Atlantic Health Solutions and is on the creative team for the price shopping and appointment booking web application; Save On Medical .  With a background in creative writing and experience in healthcare marketing; Sara has found her niche in healthcare blogging. Working to provide useful resources to women so that they can better understand the healthcare system, her goal is to help women become educated on the best decisions for themselves and their families.


  1. What a great and informative article...thanks for

  2. Great article - I remember when I had first finished my internship and prior to starting my job, and was between insurance for a brief period. That was kinda scary. Health insurance is nothing to play with!


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