It's normal to shop around and compare costs when you're buying a car. When you renovate your kitchen, you get estimates from more than one contractor. Shopping around for the best surgical procedure is the same thing. Being proactive and comparing costs can save you oodles of cash before you go to the hospital. The best time to negotiate prices is before you get the treatment. Make sure you know the CPT code for the procedure you are seeking. CPT means "current procedural terminology." In simple terms, CPT is the billing code hospitals use for each procedure. Knowing the code will make it easier for you to get quotes from various hospitals and doctors. Your physician can supply you with the codes [source: MSN]. Just keep in mind, if you choose a hospital where your preferred physician does not have practicing privileges, he may not be able to perform your procedure.
Hospitals use another type of billing code called the Healthcare Common Procedural Coding System. The HCPCS number is usually five digits long and may have some letters. Hospitals use the code for supplies, medical equipment and other products [source: Consumer Reports].