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.
t'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