Health Care Prices Vary Wildly: What Can You Do?

Health Care Prices Vary Wildly: What Can You Do?

Growing Movement to curb high medical costs. (Photo credit: The All-Nite Images/Flickr/CC)
(Photo credit: The All-Nite Images/Flickr/CC)

Laura Ungar and Jayne O’Donnell, USA TODAY

 

 

(USA Today) – It’s a frustrating reality of the medical marketplace: Prices are all over the map.

If you need an angioplasty to treat heart disease inBirmingham, Ala., it will cost about $15,500. But the identical procedure in Sacramento will cost four times as much.

And even within the same Boston-area market, the price of removing a common type of skin cancer can vary by hundreds of dollars depending on which hospital you go to.

Prices vary wildly from city to city and hospital to hospital for all sorts of medical care, and it’s nearly impossible to get a straight answer ahead of time on what you’ll pay. That means real consequences for family budgets now that consumers must pick up a greater-than-ever share of the health care tab.

New Hampshire patient advocate Dave deBronkart spent three months shopping for care and researching costs before being treated for basal cell carcinoma on his jaw line three years ago. Facing a $10,000 insurance deductible that he had to pay before insurance kicked in, he examined options for treatment at three different Boston-area hospitals.  He was told that one treatment, an excision, would cost up to $2,062 at one hospital, up to $2,500 at another and up to $4,010 at a third. Prices for other treatments also varied substantially by hospital.

 

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