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Seek a balance between cost and quality of healthcare

The cost and quality of healthcare varies with different providers. Year on year, you spend more every time you seek medical care. If you aren’t very selective, the quality of healthcare you get may be suboptimal. It helps to shop around to ensure you are not overpaying for healthcare, and that you are also getting the best quality.

There are already several initiatives for containing the cost of healthcare. Health regulatory authorities sometimes give guidelines on reasonable charges for health services. Insurance companies may cap the payable fees to health institutions and doctors. Competition among healthcare providers also helps to some extent. But still the cost of healthcare has a tendency to uncontrollably spiral upwards.

There’s a novel way of containing healthcare costs called Medical Bidding. It has been populated by an entity called MediBid in the US. The strategy is simple, you just put down your medical care needs and avail these to appropriate health providers. Each of them comes up with a costed package for your treatment. Then you select the most affordable provider. Other way is just to compare costs among different providers, and check whether any will avail some savings.

There are several advantages of medical bidding, especially for self-payers. You know upfront what you will be paying, no hidden costs to surprise you. You expose yourself to many willing specialists, all looking to provide you the best of care. You get to have several choices, go to easily accessible facilities, and you end up with a competitive bill. Even small businesses can make savings with healthcare bills for their staff by opening themselves to medical bidding.

Be careful not to select the cheapest healthcare provider. Quality of care must also be factored in. Review the resumes of the health facilities and doctors that immediately appeal to you. And only select the best of quality, even when this comes at a higher cost. There are many ways of judging healthcare quality. Some facilities will already have recognized accreditation for quality. While others may have excellent reviews and ratings. Any healthcare providers who aren’t freely open about the quality of their services should never be on your list of choices.

A version of the MediBid isn’t available in Kenya yet. But there are other ways of ensuring you are getting the best value for your healthcare. Look hard enough, compare cost and quality among different healthcare providers, and get to know everything upfront. Then settle for the most appropriate healthcare provider. If your preferred healthcare provider appears to be more expensive, but of unrivalled quality, that’s where you should go. Cheap healthcare may turn out more expensive, or even lethal, in the long run

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Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynecologist and Fertility Specialist. amurage@mygyno.co.ke

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