Study Identifies Substantial Variability in the Cost of Prostate Cancer Surgery

Patients who want to compare prices for prostate-cancer surgery may find it rough going: a study has found a 13-fold difference in prices quoted by 100 hospitals across the United States. Moreover, most provided little more than broad estimates, and only three gave a hard copy of the charges.
Published Online: June 10, 2014
Let's say you're buying a car. You have a wealth of data at your fingertips, from safety information to performance, to guide your decision. 

The same is not as true in health care, especially if you're pricing procedures. A new study from the University of Iowa compared the cost of prostate cancer surgery at 100 hospitals throughout the United States. The quote for the procedure, the researchers found, varied from $10,100 to $135,000, a 13-fold range. (The average price was nearly $35,000, more than double the Medicare reimbursement.)

Only 10 of the hospitals that provided cost information divulged anesthesia and surgeon costs, key criteria to consider when pricing a surgical procedure. Moreover, just three hospitals provided a hard copy of the charges, further complicating a patient's ability to compare costs, the study found.

"Such variability in pricing can produce significant confusion for consumers who are accustomed to the rules of free-market economics, which equate higher fees with higher quality," write the UI researchers, in the journal Urology. "Unfortunately, in health care, this has not been found to be true."

Original report: http://bit.ly/1hLXWYR

Source: ScienceDaily



Feature
Recommended Articles
The announced price for alirocumab, the first PCSK9 inhibitor approved for use in the US, was the top story in managed care this week. Also, HHS announced $100 million available to combat substance abuse, and Medicare and Medicaid turn 50 years old.
Measure definitions to estimate the effects of cost sharing on adherence to medications prescribed together (ie, concurrent adherence) are lacking.
A study published in JAMA Oncology presents a new tool that can predict disease recurrence in oropharyngeal cancer patients.
Proposed mergers of Aetna and Humana, and Anthem and Cigna, raise questions of whether consumers will continue to see competition in health insurance markets.
Clinical pathways (CPs) are increasingly being utilized to improve quality of care and control healthcare costs in the United States. A new report from Avalere Health examines the development of CPs, use of evidence to inform their design, implementation processes, and their impact on quality of care, costs, and outcomes.