Said Bechta: “It doesn’t lead me to conclude that I can make an educated choice about a hospital and say I’m going to save the system money by going here, because the next person who has a different insurance plan is not saving money by going there, and they’re getting the exact same test or procedure that I’m going to get.” Bingo! Betcha nailed the contradiction presented by all this shopping stuff. Reporters should explore this contradiction further. It would make for much better journalism than passing along more quotes from Kathleen Sebelius and others about how easy shopping will be thanks to the Obama administration.

After all the study and frustration, Bechta decided to stay with her traditional HMO. Most consumers will do the same, taking the easy way out of a task they’ll inevitably hate. No, shopping won’t be like buying a can opener from Amazon.

Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.