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Healthcare shopping proves stressful for consumers

Miami Herald, June 7, 2011

When Shirley Abraham of Key Largo needed a nuclear stress test on her heart, she and husband Jim tried to be cautious consumers, since their insurance required they pay 20% out of pocket. They were particularly wary because several years before, Jim had undergone an MRI at a Baptist Health South Florida facility — and was flabbergasted to see a charge of $25,000 for a test that costs about $5,000 in southwestern Michigan, where they spend summers. That meant the Abrahams' expense was a stunning $5,000. This time, determined to avoid such an unwelcome surprise, they decided to do their own legwork on costs. But what happened next is a prime example of the pitfalls awaiting those who try to be thoughtful healthcare consumers.