Indianapolis radiologist introduces flat-rate pricing for patients

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The sticker shock that comes with a medical bill can be overwhelming. But a healthcare provider in Indianapolis could change billing by offering flat-rate pricing for services.

Health is s a priority for Cindy Williams, who walks two miles three times a week. But at her last annual check-up, something didn't sound just right.

"She thought she heard something in my left carotid artery and so she asked me if I would be willing to have an ultrasound done on my left carotid artery," Williams said.

Williams' insurance has a $2,500 deductible, so payments would be out-of-pocket.

"The information I was given through Community Hospital was that it would be anywhere from $800-900 to have the actual procedure done," Williams said.

Add to that $200 for a doctor's fee to read the scan, so she decided to shop around.

"I called about seven or eight places and it ranged with Northwest Radiology being the cheapest at $150. They told me they would they would do the procedure as well as have the doctor read it for a flat rate pricing, which was $150 and I was completely shocked," she said.

Her ultrasound revealed no higher risk for stroke.

"So this would kind of be a clean bill of health," said Dr. Kent Hansen, President & CEO of Northwest Radiology.

Hansen's office started publicly offering flat-rate pricing this year.

"I think that this, really, ultimately, is where healthcare should be," he said.

Patients are responding and business is up.

"You can get rid of all of the fluff," Hansen said. "Whether it's inflated, whether it's actually sticker price and just say, 'This is really what it costs.'"

"It's long overdue," said Chad Ashcraft, president of HealthPro.

Ashcraft says 70 percent of surveyed patients say they will drive further and take a less-preferred appointment time to save money.

"We have people actually driving from Valparaiso, from down in Madison, southern Indiana, two to three hours to come use, take advantage of this program," Ashcraft said.

Williams drove from Anderson and will encourage her friends to hit the road, too.

"Sit down, call around and you might be pleasantly surprised what you might find," she said.

The flat-rate pricing is for PET and CT scans, mammograms and ultrasounds - x-rays that average nearly $700. The flat fee is $50.