To cut medical bills, consumers should take a leaf from their strategies for other big purchases: Shop around.
Doing so can have a substantial payoff. A Change Healthcare analysis released this spring found that prices can vary by more than 300 percent on the same service, even within a given insurer's network of providers. (See chart below for ranges on some common services.) Sometimes the price gap is even wider.
Another study this year found that giving birth in California might cost as little as $3,000 or as much as $37,000—and that's only for simple vaginal delivery, and after adjusting for factors such as moms who had complications.
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