Impatient | Helping make the health care system work for you

Join #pricecheck: Help make health care costs more transparent

Price Check aims to bring transparency to the costs of certain health care tests.
Price Check aims to bring transparency to the costs of certain health care tests.
Photo by 401(K) 2012 via Flickr Creative Commons

Have you ever gone to the doctor or hospital for a routine test or procedure, and later received a shockingly high bill?

Who could have thought that service – whether it's an ultrasound or an MRI – could cost so much? And what should it cost, anyway?

The reality is, it's often next to impossible to find out the cost of health care tests, treatments and services.

Price Check

Enter Price Check, an exciting project that KPCC is launching today, in collaboration with KQED in San Francisco and, a health costs transparency company that has been gathering cost data on a variety of medical tests, procedures and services from around the country.

Through this project, we aim to build a robust database of certain health care prices in California - with your help! 

Over the course of the next four months, we're going to ask you to tell us how much you paid for four different services. First, we're asking women to share the costs of their mammograms.

Your role

Grab your medical bill or Explanation of Benefits and head over to Price Check. There's an easy-to-use form to enter the information about your mammogram: the total price charged, how much your insurance company paid, and how much you paid.

The procedure, pricing and location information you provide will be added to our database. Besides contributing to a valuable body of publicly available information, you will be helping us develop story ideas for future reporting.

As a Price Check contributor, you will remain anonymous, with your privacy fully protected. 

The goal

The rising cost of health care is a huge problem. Bringing transparency to the issue can help shape the policy debate about how to hold down costs.

At the same time, we're well aware that cost isn't everything; more expensive care doesn't necessarily translate to better quality care. But we are undertaking the Price Check project because we believe that transparency about prices will improve the discussion about how to measure and enhance quality.

Join us!

As part of this project, we’ve also launched a Price Check Facebook group, where we'll be discussing the lack of transparency in health care costs. Join us!

We'll also be talking about these issues on the radio and on this blog throughout the summer. We hope you'll share your experiences and opinions.