Blue Cross Helps Louisianians Understand What They’ll Pay for Healthcare

Jan. 8, 2019

BATON ROUGE – Starting Jan. 1, 2019, hospitals nationwide are required to post their gross charges for all procedures, drugs and supplies. This is in keeping with a federal requirement aimed at making healthcare costs more transparent to consumers.

“While it’s good to see more information becoming available that patients can take into account when making their healthcare decisions, it’s important to remember that a hospital’s listed charge isn’t necessarily what you will pay,” said Mike Bertaut, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana healthcare economist and author of the insurer’s Straight Talk blog.

“Insurance companies like Blue Cross negotiate with their in-network providers to set the costs on what they will cover and what the providers can charge our customers,” Bertaut said. “In addition, if the provider is not in your network, the charges will be different than if they are in-network. It’s important to refer to your health plan benefits and coverage to get an accurate idea of what you will pay for care.” 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana offers some tips that all Louisianians with health insurance  can use to find out what they can expect to pay for healthcare services. 

  • Know how different healthcare services are covered on your specific health plan and what your out-of-pocket costs are. Keep in mind that different plans from the same insurance company don’t have the same in-network providers or cover services the same way.

    Blue Cross members can use their Blue Cross member accounts (online or through the BCBSLA member app) to do this. Need to sign up for your member account? Go to to register. 
  • Make sure you are staying in your network for care -- you will pay less out of pocket when you see in-network healthcare providers. 

    Blue Cross posts its network directory online at, or members can use the BCBSLA mobile app to get up-to-date information on providers in network for their plans. 
  • Call your insurance provider’s Customer Service center to find out if a healthcare provider is in your plan’s network and ask how the service you plan to have is covered on your plan, so you know about any out-of-pocket costs you’ll have to pay. For Blue Cross members, that number is on your member ID card.
  • If you need to have a procedure, like an MRI, colonoscopy or mammogram, see if your insurance provider has a tool that can help you compare prices. 

    Blue Cross members can use SmartShopperTM, which lets them see cost ranges for procedures in hundreds of categories. Powered by information from Blue Cross’ claims data, SmartShopper shows the price differences for various procedures, based on facility and ZIP code for a Blue Cross customer. “I recently used the tool for cataract surgery and saved hundreds of dollars,” Bertaut said.  

    SmartShopper is online at or by going directly to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana customers who are ages 18 or older, with the exception of those covered through the Federal Employee Program, can access Smart Shopper. The tool is also available to Blue Cross network providers.
  • Keep in mind that even if you go to a hospital in network, it’s possible that doctors who work at that hospital are not in your network, and you could be charged more if treated by them. 

    Blue Cross makes in-network hospitals share which healthcare providers they contract with – anesthesiologists, emergency room doctors, neonatologists, pathologists, radiologists and others who may not be in network – and posts this information online to make it easier for customers to see which providers at the places you go for care are in and out of your network.

For year-round tips on saving money with your healthcare costs, visit

Bertaut’s blog, Straight Talk, shares information on healthcare reform, costs and quality. The blog is updated typically weekly and includes articles, video and podcasts. Customers are encouraged to visit Straight Talk to see news and updates. 

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. We invest both time and money in the communities we serve, supporting the health and wellbeing of Louisianians through more than 200 charitable organizations.

With our subsidiaries, HMO Louisiana and Southern National Life, we provide group and individual health insurance plans, life and disability insurance, group voluntary products and administrative services to one out of four Louisiana residents. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana also provides Medicare supplement and Medicare Advantage plans and is a partner in offering the Healthy Blue Medicaid Managed care plan. Louisiana is the only state where we operate, with offices in every major region to serve our customers.

Founded in New Orleans in 1934, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is a tax-paying non-profit health insurer. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

To learn more, visit our website at