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This Web site contains a compilation of more than a thousand consumer finance  columns written by Tony Novak from the 1980s through 2006, updated and reformatted for maximum usefulness today.  New material was added after 2010.

Content is the opinion of the author and does not represent the position of any other person or entity. Information is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed.

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Knowing prices for medical care

originally posted: 11/22/2006  reposted: 2/18/2011 This post has not been recently reviewed or revised by the author and may be out of date. If you notice an error or are in doubt, please send a new question by email or ask for an update. Email

Q: My husband’s company offers a consumer-driven health plan where an amount of cash is paid into an account each month for us to cover our health expenses. This seems like a good idea, but I have trouble finding the cost of medical treatment or knowing whether the charges are fair.

A: The cost of treatment is best known handled though a Preferred Provider Organization. If you health plan does not include this benefit, enroll yourself at This offers two advantages. First, all participating medical providers have agreed to present the bill to the PPO organization before requiring payment from the patient. Second, the medical provider has agreed to allow the PPO to adjust the bill to the network contract price, so there is usually a significant savings over the “cash price”.


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