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Tue Feb 12, 2013, 09:33 AM

Wild hospital cost disparities revealed

Jaime Rosenthal, a senior at Washington University in St. Louis, called more than 100 hospitals in every state last summer, seeking prices for a hip replacement for a 62-year-old grandmother who was uninsured but had the means to pay herself.

The quotes she received might surprise even hardened health care economists: Only about half of the hospitals, including top-ranked orthopedic centers and community hospitals, could provide any sort of price estimate, despite repeated calls.

Those that could gave quotes that varied by a factor of more than 10, from $11,100 to $125,798.

Rosenthal's grandmother was fictitious, created for a summer research project on health care costs. But the findings, which form the basis of a paper released Monday by JAMA Internal Medicine, are likely to fan the debate on the unsustainable growth of U.S. health care costs and an opaque medical system in which prices are often hidden from consumers.

"Transparency is all the rage these days in government and business, but there has been little push for pricing transparency in health care, and there's virtually no information," said Dr. Peter Cram, an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa, who wrote the paper with Rosenthal. "I can get the price for a car, for a can of oil, for a gallon of milk. But health care? That's not so easy."

http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Wild-hospital-cost-disparities-revealed-4270284.php

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Reply Wild hospital cost disparities revealed (Original post)
Redfairen Feb 2013 OP
modrepub Feb 2013 #1
KurtNYC Feb 2013 #2
NYC_SKP Feb 2013 #3
shcrane71 Feb 2013 #4

Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 11:49 AM

1. Shoulder Surgery

Wife just had it. Cost: $72k+ Luckily, we were only on the hook for $95, which makes me feel slightly better considering it costs me $10k/year to insure my family.

This is a severe problem in the US. Nobody seems to know how much medical procedures cost and therefore there's no way we can figure out how to control them. Granted every surgery is different, but the wide range of costs (if they will even quantify them) borders on ridiculous.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 12:00 PM

2. There should be YELP reviews for hospitals and doctors

Right now the customer has almost no information.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 08:17 PM

3. In fairness, you can't fix a price for a fictitious patient.

A hip replacement isn't like a tetanus shot.

There are too many variables, the patient's general conditions, anomalies of the surgical site, etc., etc.,.

Until you provide a real patient, a provider can't provide a real cost.

Because all patients are different.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 12:05 AM

4. In many countries, the government regulates what can be charged for a procedure.

It's pretty nice as people can plan and save for health care expenses, and not fear that they'll be getting price gouged.

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