When It Comes to Health Care Shopping, What’s Your State in the Market for?

With millions of health plan members using our technology to search for providers and compare health care costs, we have no shortage of data. We love to look into how consumers are shopping for health care – and exactly what they are looking for – and sharing those insights.

For this latest look at the shopping trends of people who use our tools, we took a national look at a subset of our data, totaling 398,622 total cost estimates requested by 124,599 members from a six-month period in 2017. Overall, we found that ‘Imaging & Radiology’ was the most searched for cost term, followed closely by Office Visits and Labor & Delivery. We also noted that women still make up the majority of health care shoppers, comprising 66% of all health care cost searches in our tools.

HealthSparq's National shopping trends map

It’s more important than ever to shop around for health care

Even with more and more data coming out around the huge cost variations that exist from state to state and even city to city (or within the same city!) for the same health care procedures, comparing costs is more important than ever.

In fact, we just took a look and found even more interesting examples of the large cost disparity that exist for extremely common procedures:

Labor and delivery are always among our top search terms. So when it came to looking at cost variations, we weren’t surprised to see big difference. For example, a routine vaginal delivery (with no complications) could cost you just $11,090 in Minnesota, while just a couple states away in Missouri, your total shoots up to $16,675. If some complications exist, Minnesota still comes in on the low-end at $13,290 while Miami, Florida will cost you $20,550 – nearly $7,300 more.

When it comes to other very common services, the price swings are even larger. For an ACL repair, Albany, New York is a comparative steal at an average cost of $6,790 while New Orleans, Lousiana will run you an average of $17,420 for the same procedure. And, for sinus surgery, you’ll see an even bigger cost difference. If you happen to live in White Plains, New York, the procedure will cost you an average of just $4,500. In Louisiana overall, however, that number jumps to an astounding average of $23,300.

All of these numbers just go to show, it is more important than ever to shop around for your health care.

Who Stood Out?

Amongst the national trends, you will notice a few icons that are only present in one or two states. These states are unique nationally for having a top health care cost search that differs from the rest. They are:

  • Breast health in Arkansas
  • Weight loss surgery in Maine
  • Knee conditions in Montana
  • Heart disease and conditions in New Mexico
  • Foot conditions in South Dakota
  • Colon health in Indiana and Vermont
  • Hernia conditions in Wyoming

By better understanding what consumers are in the market for, we can help our health plan partners get the word out to their members about our shopping tools and the benefits of using them (saving money!).

Want to learn more? Want to discuss how you can help steer your members to lower-cost health care services? Reach out, we’d love to hear from you!