Washingtonians could save $254.6M by shopping for care

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When it comes to health care, Washington state consumers could save roughly a quarter of a billion dollars by simply shopping around.

That’s according to new data compiled by Regence BlueShield of Washington and HealthSparq, a health care startup specializing in consumer transparency.

The study crunched data provided by Regence BlueShield’s 1.1 million members in Washington, finding that unnecessary health care expenses could be cut 13.4 percent just by using shopping tools.

Washingtonians could also save 28 percent on medical procedures by actively shopping, the study found.

And consumers could trim costs another 7 percent by embracing technology and using telehealth options in lieu of visiting the hospital, saving an average of $49 per person per month.

Overall, Washingtonians could save a total of $254.6 million on health care by looking for the best deal available in the same way they would for a car or computer.

That translates to an average savings of $41 per month per person.

To arrive at these numbers, HealthSparq analyzed all of Regence’s health claims data in Washington to find the percentage of money spent on procedures that could have potentially been shopped for, but were not.

“We looked at what treatments they could compare costs on,” said Burt Rosen, chief marketing officer for HealthSparq.

They found that of $1.9 billion spent in total, 28 percent was shoppable — and the amount of that total that could be completely eliminated by choosing lower cost procedures was 13.4 percent, which breaks down to $94 per person per month.

“We’re very focused on the value of the total number of claims filed, and the ways that we can help people reduce that number,” Rosen said.

Last year, HealthSparq also compiled data from 237,000 people using its shopping tools to put out a 2015 Health Care Shopping Trends Report, which affords some novel insight into how people use health care shopping tools in terms of age, location, and even time of year.

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In addition to its revealing findings, the report also earns high marks for its elegant design and a touch of humor — with a section devoted to “the most humorous, surprising and outrageous terms people searched for.

Check out the fully national study here.