COLUMBIA, Mo. - Hospital costs in Missouri continue to rise in the state, exceeding the costs compared to other states.
Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows Missourians' spending on hospital care in 2017 is the 10th-highest in the country as a percentage of their total health care costs. Missourians also paid more in hospital visits than three states close in population - Tennessee, Colorado and Maryland.
Shannon Brenneke, an insurance agent for Wallstreet Insurance Group, says those costs an run higher since the price of procedures needs to pay for the whole hospital.
"A whole hospital system, you're paying for the overall cost of that system versus a standalone center. They may have a small building where all they do all day long is MRIs. Their costs are not going to be near as huge as a huge hospital system."
Brenneke recommends shopping for services when it comes time for some tests, comparing prices at smaller, specialty clinics for tests like MRIs.
"For some reason in health care, we don't do that," Brenneke said. "We just for whatever's easiest, but then when we get the bill later, and the bill is extremely high, and then maybe we find out later from a friend over here, 'Well, I went to the MRI center that's off-site, and I paid a third of that cost and I got the same thing done.'"
Some of those off-site tests might be free. Knowing what is free, and speaking with your doctor about it, could save some money.
"Check with your health insurance ahead, and know that 'XYZ lab,' I get to use that for free, and tell your doctor that," Brenneke said. "Because if you don't tell them, they're going to send it through their, typically the easiest provider or their provider."
For the uninsured, there are still some ways to save. Telehealth and virtual doctor visits in some cases can be cheaper than a physical visit.
"Even if you don't have health insurance, there are some virtual visits that you can do and set up without insurance, and they're still going to be less expensive," Brenneke said.