Study Finds Disparate Health Care Costs
Appendectomies are a relatively common medical procedure, which means that there are plenty of them done around the country. It therefore makes a great study to see just how much they cost.
The results of that study are eye-opening.
The costs range by tens of thousands of dollars.
Many patients have no idea how much procedures are going to cost before doctors go and perform them. There’s little transparency on costs, though some insurers are beginning to provide that data to their customers.
It’s cost-roulette. The differences can be significant within geographical areas, and even between hospitals in the same city.
The NY Times indicated that one instance found a patient hit with charges for his appendectomy that were six times the median for his geographical area.
So, how do we deal with these disparities? Seeking more transparency in how these costs are billed - letting the health care consumer know what the median cost for the region and how and why hospital X is charging more or less for the same service is a start. Billing should be providing more information and insight into how and why items are billed out at certain rates.
The fact is that researchers could find no explanation for about one-third of the cost differences. That means that there’s tremendous opportunities to engage in real reform and cost containment that wont affect outcomes - making sure that people get the necessary care and are properly treated and make full recovery from the procedures.