How Much Does an MRI Cost In California: $255? $973.25? $2,925?

How Much Does an MRI Cost In California: $255? $973.25? $2,925?

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Jeanne PinderEarly results from our California crowdsourcing project on MRI prices are in. Payments range from $255 to $2,925.15. MRI pricing is a complete mystery: What should you pay? Can you ask for a discount? We’ve been looking at health-care prices for three years, so if we say it’s a mystery, we can imagine what it looks like to you.

How much should you pay? Well, one person was told the price is $1,850, but if you pay up front, you can save almost $1,300.

The note on our form, shared by our community member: “I was told procedure would be 1850. I have a 7500 deductible. So I talked to the office mgr who said if I paid upfront and agreed not to report the procedure to Blue Cross, that it would be $580.”

On our Facebook page, one contributor wrote, “I was going to be billed $830 through my PPO for an MRI. The cash price? $500.”

This is the second part of our crowdsourcing project in California with KQED public radio in San Francisco and KPCC/Southern California Public Radio in Los Angeles. We have been asking people to share pricing information for MRI’s, especially of the back; last month we collected mammogram pricing.

A note: We are often asked in this crowdsourcing prototype project if we believe what we are being told by people who fill out our online form at the PriceCheck page. The answer: yes, we do. Though some of our community members have said their bills are confusing, or the coding they see on the bills doesn’t match what we’re collecting, we believe our contributors’ shares. We have seen wide variations in health-care pricing.

So: here are early results.

Lower-back MRI: $255? $602.85? $973.25? $1,660?

Eight identical MRI’s, and eight vastly different payments.

No. 1: We heard from one Kaiser member, who received an MRI of the lower back, without contrast or dye (CPT code 72148) at the Kaiser Antioch Medical Center on Sand Creek Road in Antioch, Calif. This person was charged $973.25 and paid $973.25; insurance paid nothing.Comment: “This price was the contracted amount through my insurance. Deductible had not been met so I was responsible for all charges. This does not include the two office visits required to obtain and analyze the results.”

No. 2: Same kind of MRI, code 72148, at Radnet Medical Imaging at 3440 California St. in San Francisco. This person was charged $1,660 and paid $1,660, out of HSA funds. (Note: Our ClearHealthCosts pricing survey included that Radnet location, and they did tell our survey agent that their cash price is $1,660.)

No. 3 and No. 4: Two of our community members sent in prices for that same MRI of the lower back (CPT code 72148), both at a Health Diagnostics location at 325 Sacramento St. in San Francisco.

One a Medicare recipient, was charged $2,450, and Medicare paid $255. There was no patient payment.

The other was charged $602.85 and paid the full $602.85. Comment: “I had to pay the full price since I had not yet met my deductible. For some reason Blue Shield of CA said it would have only been $65 if I got it done in a lab instead of a center, not sure what that means.” No email was given, so we can’t follow up for comment.

Also  one of our community members sent in a pricing sheet for imaging procedures from Health Diagnostics (see below). It lists a $575 cash or self-pay price for an MRI. We could not find it on the Health Diagnostics website, so we are reproducing what was scanned and sent here. We are also attaching spreadsheets for several other imaging facilities that have posted prices online or made price lists to give to patients. Cash rates here seem to range from $399 to $3,388, though the specifics are not always clear, and some providers call their posted prices “estimates.” (See a bit below for our ClearHealthCosts pricing  survey information.)

The Health Diagnostics website does not seem to have the Sacramento Street location. It does have one California location, in Alameda.

No. 5: Provider, Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank: insurer, Medicare and Blue Shield Medigap.
Charged price $2,266; Medicare paid $201.07, and Blue Shield Medigap paid $133.42; you paid $0.
Comment: “The scan and 3D radiology was $2266.00.  Medicare paid $201.07 and Blue Shield Medigap pays $133.42.  The 3D radiographic procedure (76376) was $338.00 and included in the $2266.00 amount.”

No. 6: Provider, Vallejo MRI on Glen Cove Marina Road in Vallejo; insurer, Blue Cross.
Charged price, $580; insurance paid, $0; you paid, $580.
Comment: “I was told procedure would be 1850. I have a 7500 deductible. So I talked to the office mgr who said if I paid upfront and agreed not to report the procedure to Blue Cross, that it would be $580.”

No. 7: Provider, Palo Alto Medical Foundation; insurer not named.
Charged price, $2,650; insurance paid, $0; you paid, $2,650.
No comments.

No. 8: Provider: Kaiser Permanente Medical Center on West McArthur Boulevard in Oakland; insurer, Kaiser Permanente.
Charged price, $2,785; insurance paid, $2,785; you paid, $10.
Comment: “Service delivered on 7.19.14; ‘hospital’ bill activity summary arrived on 7.29.14. charges showed as $2,785 and activity summary shows I paid $10 at time of visit. However, values listed above came with a ‘pending’ notice – pending ‘paid by insurance/adjustment’ and pending ‘amount I owe.’ so the total charges seems to be $2,785. What portion of that I owe may go up from the $10 I paid at time of service.”

Oakland prices: Two Telegraph Avenue providers

Update, 7/31/14: More recent community shares include two Oakland MRI’s. Here they are: Both paid cash.
No. 1: Provider: Magnetic Imaging Affiliates at 5730 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland. Procedure: MRI 72147, chest spine MRI with dye.
Charged price,  $3,163; insurance paid $0; you paid $3,163.
Comment: “High deductible so paid the whole thing and then found out I could have had it done for *HALF* the price only  blocks away.  My first foray into individual insurance and it sucked.   Need to shop around assuming can even get a price quote.”

No. 2: Provider: Norcal Imaging at 3200 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland.  Procedure: MRI 72141, upper back MRI without dye.
Charged price, $1,000; insurance paid, $0; you paid, $1,000.
Comment: “Discount for paying day of service. ”

A different MRI, but same wild price disparities

We also got reports from three lower-back MRI’s, both with and without contrast or dye: this procedure (CPT code 72158) uses an injection of contrast material to better visualize what’s going on under the skin.

No. 1: Provider, Marina del Rey  (Unclear; Marina del Rey Radiology? Marina del Rey Hospital?); insurer, Anthem Blue Cross (California).
Charged price, $319.92;  insurance paid, $223.72; you paid, $96.20.
No comments.

No. 2: Provider, North Bay MRI Center in Pinole, Calif.; insurer, Medicare and Anthem Blue Cross (California).
Charged price, $466.69; insurance paid, $459.03; you paid, $0. 
Comment: “Medicare paid 365.73 and Anthem paid 93.30. ”

No. 3: Provider, Stanford Medical Center, on Pasteur Drive in Stanford; insurer, Aetna.
Charged price, $5,647; insurance paid, $2,925.15; you paid, $0.
Comment: “Aetna did not actually pay $5,647. The Aetna adjusted member rate was $2,925.15.”

 Upper-back MRI: $305? $1,984? $2,294?

Here are reports from two other very similar MRI’s, an MRI of the cervical spine or upper back without contrast or dye (CPT code 72141). This is very similar to the one coded 72148, and usually the prices are comparable.

One person, at Imaging Healthcare Specialists in San Diego, was charged $1,984, insurance paid $0, and the patient paid $305. The comment: “Insurance paid $0 because deductible not yet met.”

Another person, at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center on MacArthur Boulevard in Oakland, who is insured by Kaiser, was charged $2,294 and is being billed for $2,294. The comment: “At the time I was billed for this procedure, Kaiser Permanente did not have on record that I was covered under COBRA.  I  believe this is the price KP would charge an uninsured person.   COBRA should pay for this eventually,  once everyone’s paperwork gets caught up.  (This is another issue – I’ve been covered under COBRA for nearly 6 months, but this information was not communicated to KP’s MRI Department, despite my numerous calls to KP and the COBRA insurer.  It’s taken me months to sort this out!  A single payer plan would eliminate all of this paperwork, wasted time, angst, and headaches.”

 

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72 Comments on "How Much Does an MRI Cost In California: $255? $973.25? $2,925?"


Guest
Saurabh Jha
Aug 6, 2014

What a cluster, forgive my French.

And how refreshing it is to see ordinary citizens achieving what regulators and government failed to achieve.

Guest

Thank you so much! It’s like the “Take Back the Night” movement among women — only this time, it’s “Take Back the Bills.”

Guest
Trent Landers
Aug 7, 2014

Yes but for every success story there are a hundred failures. People too sick to “shop around”, too poor to pay even $500, too overburdened by previous medical bills, too overwhelmed by grief, disappointment, pain and the endless hoops one must jump through. Every citizen should have demanded of their elected gov’t. representatives single payer health insurance. There was a 70% public approval but Harry Reid, Republican thugs and the insurance industry (Aetna took the lead) lobbied just hours before the bill was voted on. Guess who won? Well, it wasn’t the patient or you!

Guest

There are a hundred failures, but even though the law is deeply flawed, it’s really moved the ball quite a bit. Also, given gridlock in Washington, single-payer would never have passed. Do you agree?

And, irony of ironies: a friend who’s a health economist says that some European nations with variations of single-payer are looking to private enterprise to save them from the effects of rising health costs on their government health outlays. He says they don’t want to believe that private enterprise can be pernicious in this regard. Yikes.

Guest
Aug 6, 2014

This is why I’ve been saying for a couple of years now that, as part of every single medical encounter, people-commonly-called-patients MUST ask “how much is that?” before making any decisions about treatment with their care team. Really. It’s only when we, the end users, start grabbing the reins that the system will shift. So … TAKE BACK THE BILLS. Just like Jeanne said.

Guest

Thank you so much. Transparency warriors, come on over!

Guest
sribe
Aug 9, 2014

I tried like heck to get a price on a colonoscopy before having the procedure, thought I had it all nailed down. Then in a conversation the day after, I was told something different–that the price I was quoted did NOT include the facility and that there would be a separate fee. (But that the taking of the biopsy would be bundled as a single colonoscopy with biopsy fee, whereas before I had been told it would be colonoscopy + colonoscopy with biopsy.)

Now what’s really interesting here is that they were not being greedy or trying to screw me–this turned out to be an extremely competitive provider. What they billed the insurance for the procedure was not quite $700. What they billed separately for the facility was $0, for the anesthesia $0. So <$700 total to the gastro, + $130 to the pathologist.

And what I had to pay turned out to be $0, instead of 40%. So, right now, even a well-inentioned, competitive provider who really should be bragging loudly about their prices, cannot give a straight answer.

Guest

Interesting story. Where do you live? Our California price range is from $1,200 to $7,800 charged, and payments from $593 total to $7,800 total.

Two thoughts:

1. was it a regular preventive colonoscopy? Those are supposed to be 100 percent covered under the ACA (though we are learning that they are not always — quite often people are asked to pay a portion as deductible or co-insurance). If it was preventive, why were they telling you you need to pay 40 percent?

2. I have a friend who’s a competitively priced provider. His group feels that they’re being shut out of the ACO market because they never inflated prices — unlike their high-priced competitors up the road, who, in his view, are fully engaged in reaping ACO benefits because they are shaving back their bloated prices.

So i wonder: are other competitively priced providers feeling left out in the cold?

Guest
sribe
Aug 10, 2014

Interesting story. Where do you live? Our California price range is from $1,200 to $7,800 charged, and payments from $593 total to $7,800 total.

I live in Colorado, the provider is in Denver.

“1. was it a regular preventive colonoscopy? Those are supposed to be 100 percent covered under the ACA (though we are learning that they are not always — quite often people are asked to pay a portion as deductible or co-insurance). If it was preventive, why were they telling you you need to pay 40 percent?”

They told me BEFORE that it would be 40 percent, and then after I was billed nothing. So although they made a mistake, it was not of the nature of springing unanticipated charges on me after the fact. It was a regular colonoscopy, they snipped a polyp for biopsy, and it wound up being covered 100%. So my insurer did not try the “oops, it’s not preventive anymore, now it’s diagnostic” crap 😉 And, FYI, he billed $696 and was paid $590.29. The pathologist billed $311 and was paid $130.

“2. I have a friend who’s a competitively priced provider. His group feels that they’re being shut out of the ACO market because they never inflated prices — unlike their high-priced competitors up the road, who, in his view, are fully engaged in reaping ACO benefits because they are shaving back their bloated prices.”

I have no gastro issues, no reason to see one other than the “you’re 50 have a colonoscopy” standard screening. So I have no idea whether his practice is thriving with referrals because of his fair pricing, or if he’s being squeezed by some peculiarity of the market.

Guest
Aug 10, 2014

When you say ACO, are you referencing Accountable Care Org? ‘Cause that’s more about coordinated care for Medicare beneficiaries. If you’re talking ACA Marketplace insurance plans, then you’re talking coverage ins’n’outs.

I used to think the military and broadcast engineering was addicted to acronyms. Then I started covering healthcare and getting involved in healthcare policy, and realized that the medicos win the acronym game hands down. HIE, HIT, EMR, HITECH, ICD-10, HL7, E I E I O.

Guest

Yes, Casey, ACO: They looked at the requirements and rewards for forming an Accountable Care Organization in their practice.

The reward for being proven accountable is that you get to share in cost savings.

Their costs are so low, my friend said, that the added requirements of proving their accountability would swallow any rewards they could produce from cost savings.

Guest
Davina Drabkin
Aug 6, 2014

Thanks for shining the light! Finally people can have a sense of what prices are in the ballpark and the information they need to shop around.

Guest

Thanks! We’re excited to be able to not just point at the problem of pricing disparities, but also to give people something they can do about it:

–share your prices in our database
–ask questions about prices
–be aware of how the market works, and feel empowered to take actions

Viva transparency!

Guest
Judy Kettenhofen
Aug 6, 2014

I agree Casey…but when they say they don’t know … you’re up a creek without a paddle.

Which is why I am VERY excited about this initiative.

Walking into urgent care and being required to sign what in essence is a cart blanche responsibility for the costs…without even knowing the vaguest estimates of what those costs might be…

Heck, they don’t even let the people who repair your automobile get away with that!

Guest
Aug 6, 2014

Why I delight in informing the clinicians I interact with on how to find out “how much” – I was uninsured/self-pay for five years post-cancer. I’m an expert at finding out, and sharing, price information. Jeanne and I are colleagues in this effort, so I always hit up her database as part of my hunt for an answer, and I advise all – patients or clinicians – to do the same. Knowledge is power, get some. That’s my philosophy =)

Guest
Aug 6, 2014

The billed amount is a game played at the request of insurance companies who reimburse a percentage (typically 1/2) of the billed amount. So in order to stay in business, imaging centers will bill “twice Medicare,” to use typical jargon.

If, however, you are a cash paying customer, and the bill is therefore not submitted to an insurance company, then the “vendor” may (and should) agree to bill cost plus fair profit.

Once the bill is submitted, however, the “patient responsibility” becomes apparent and you are on the hook for the non-reimbursed amount, thanks to insurance fraud regulations. I have personally been hit with this issue with my daughter’s dentist bill. I couldn’t even get a discount on that remainder amount.

I advocate that ALL imaging studies be billed at cost plus fair profit percentage. But until the insurance reimbursement game is under better control, doctors and patients will continue to suffer this massive price gouging confusion.

Guest
Saurabh Jha
Aug 6, 2014

“insurance fraud regulations. I have personally been hit with this issue with my daughter’s dentist bill. I couldn’t even get a discount on that remainder amount.”

Paul, could you explain this regulation?

Thanks.

Guest

Thanks, Paul. I am sorry to hear about your daughter’s dentist bill.

We have heard everything from “I called them and they said I didn’t have to pay” to “they negotiated it after the fact down to a really modest sum” on up to “they insisted on getting the full $6,000 for the stupid MRI.”

I’m with Saurabh Jha on the question about insurance fraud, though. Is this an Office of the Inspector General issue, or an issue of insurance company regs? There are also some state regulations on balance billing that are supposed to protect people; here’s a handy Kaiser scorecard. http://kff.org/private-insurance/state-indicator/state-restriction-against-providers-balance-billing-managed-care-enrollees/

Guest
Aug 6, 2014

My daughter needed some dental work. The bill was submitted and some percentage was reimbursed. We received a bill for the remainder. When I asked the administrator for a discount, as any normal person should do when it comes to health care bills, I was told that no discount could be offered as the bill had already been submitted to insurance and “a discount of the remainder wasn’t allowed.” I apologize for not looking up the regulations but I’ve heard that comment twice now from different offices. (The other one was a pediatric cardiologist). I would, however, be interested to know if there is actually such a regulation. Sorry for the lack of definitive evidence on this point.

Guest

Our notes crossed on the site. What state are you in? And was this an in-network provider?

I like the notion that any normal person should ask for a discount with health-care bills, Paul! You’re a man after my own heart!

We often suggest that people ask Before The Fact “what will that cost? what will that cost ME” because it tends to be easier to do it before than After The Fact for many reasons (insert gusty sigh).

Guest
Aug 6, 2014

I’m in Florida. Thanks for the kff link. Helpful information!

Paying the bill isn’t the biggest problem. The problem is knowing that you are paying the fair amount for services rendered. As a physician, I know too well that billing seems disjointed and without logical reason, although there is method to the madness.

Clearly, though, there needs to be better billing transparency so that people know that, in the majority of cases anyway, it is not that doctors are greedy. It is a matter of insurance reimbursement why billed amounts are so apparently haphazard.

Guest

Totally agree. All the prices should be posted. That way, if somebody wants the $6,000 MRI, he or she can have it. Or the $600 one.

One caveat, though: if someone’s getting a $6,000 MRI, he or she should pay for it — not me, my employer, my insurance company or any other third party!

Guest
Judy Kettenhofen
Aug 6, 2014

In all fairness…it’s not just asking the question…it’s also in HOW you ask the question…and how nice you are to the billing people…

Not saying that will necessarily gain you anything…but if you are a billing person, you probably get a lot of crap all day long from patients…

One day I had to have my car towed…and just being nice and caring about the tow truck driver got extra miles and a fee waived…(and no, it is DEFINITELY not because I’m a blonde bombshell or anything like that…I am an archetypal “silicon valley nerd.”…I was just nice, asked questions, tried to be helpful, and cared. It WAS around rush hour as well, as I recall.)

Being nice is a salve which can be applied on a lot of hurting functionaries who have to deal with angry unhappy customers all day long…think of it as a kind of healing you can give THEM…

Guest

Excellent point.

We are all in this together, and the billing people — and the docs, the hospital administrators, the Big Pharma folks, the insurance phone bank folks — are patients too at some point.

And being nice is, well, nice.

Guest
LeoHolmMD
Aug 6, 2014

Fantastic idea. Keep going. The result of all this gaming that has been going on for years is that patients paying out of their own pocket have been royally screwed. Long overdue concept. Best case scenario is that open and fair pricing will evolve.

Guest

Open and fair pricing must evolve. This is the last remaining big opaque marketplace. Think what happened to airline ticket sales, real estate sales, car sales when transparency came.

It’s happening here, too.

Guest
Dr. Mike
Aug 6, 2014

It’s great someone is comparing prices since is it illegal for the providers of the services to share their prices – oh wait – that would be yet another example of the unintended consequences of unreformed government regulation.

Guest

We’ve heard that about providers sharing prices, but …. can’t providers hire “practice management” services who will help in billing? I don’t know much about them, but have heard of several. I take it that they consult and develop data/info and then sell it to practitioners. Do you know anything about them? We’re eager to learn!

Guest
Dr. Mike
Aug 7, 2014

It is interesting that on the largest physician only internet forum (SERMO) how paranoid docs are about sharing prices. Everyone posts under a pseudonym and no one needs to know where you practice, and yet if you even hint at a price for a service you are virtually shouted down with warnings that you are breaking the law. As with malpractice, it really doesn’t matter what the technical reality is, it only matters what the perception is. And consultants cost money, a lot of money, hence they only tend to be hired when why is trying to make more money, not less.
No, transparency has to come from changes in the system (the way we pay for services) or from non-governmental groups that step up to inform the public.

Guest

We’re here to help!

Guest
Trent Landers
Aug 7, 2014

And that is why physician’s malpractice insurance prices as well as the settlements for malpractice are still going through the roof. There is an article on this very site today, 8-7-14, that you are 400 times more likely to die of medical staff mistakes than you are of EBOLA VIRUS. When it comes to health care in the U.S.A., the patient’s needs come LAST and profit comes first. There is always someone more desperate to take the last patient’s place in line for the $2500 MRI that costs the medical facility $250. MRI’s are NOT new, nor are IV image enhancements. The problem goes much deeper…it is systemic. My proof? When was the last time you heard of an insurance company going under? When was the last time you heard of a for profit hospital that went under? If they were close to going under, they were bought up by a larger for profit entity and higher prices were the rule. Doctor’s have to be certified to practice at a hospital. Many hospitals will not certify doctors to practice at that hospital. Why does this condition exist? Doctors should be able to walk into any hospital and perform any procedure that is necessary for the patience well being.

Guest
Trent Landers
Aug 7, 2014

OOPS! Sorry…..”for the PATIENTS’ well being”.

Guest
Peter1
Aug 7, 2014

How much does an MRI cost in Japan, France, Spain, Germany, Canada.

Guest
Aug 7, 2014

I’m guessing Paul’s experience in not being able to negotiate a discount because a bill had already been submitted to insurance was due to the now largely discredited practice of using “most favored nation” clauses (which meant that payors got the benefit of the deepest discount given to ANY other individual or organizational payor). With such clauses in place, providers couldn’t offer discounts without having the discounted price applied to a whole lot of their volume, and so they were loath to do so. Over the past few years the DOJ has brought suit against payors for using this tactic, and many states have enacted laws prohibiting it.

Guest
Saurabh Jha
Aug 7, 2014

My guess is that MFN has become a convenient pretext for providers.

“Sorry we must fleece you, otherwise we’d be breaking the law.”

Guest

David, thank you so much for shedding light on this. Do you have a white paper or blog post we could refer people to when they ask this question? We know what you say anecdotally, though would love case law and/or authoritative voices like yours to point to. thanks!

Guest
Aug 7, 2014

Here’s one example: DOJ brought an antitrust action against BCBS of Michigan re: MFN clauses and then dropped it when the state legislature banned MFN clauses. — http://shrd.by/65VExK

Also, DOJ and the FYC held a joint seminar on the subject a couple of years ago: http://shrd.by/tRc7F7

As of 3 years ago, I believe about 20 states had MFN clause bans on the books.

Guest
Peter1
Aug 8, 2014

“I’m guessing Paul’s experience in not being able to negotiate a discount…”

David, what would be your basis argument for wanting a “discount”? Just because, I’m poor, I have other bills due this month, you guys are making too much money?

Guest
Aug 8, 2014

The point of the “discount request” is precisely because there is such a wide disparity between “actual cost” and “billed charges.” While this may be distasteful, it is the practice that has been in place. It is why I shake my head daily about the “line item type of cost cutting” that regulators seem to do when they attempt to “control” health care costs. They don’t understand or see the simplicity of eliminating this strange phantom billing practice that exists everywhere, in favor of a more one-to-one billing practice employed by many companies when they offer a product up for sale. When you go to the store to buy a toothbrush, computer, car, you have an idea how much negotiation (or discount requesting) room there is. Why? Because you know that it costs X to make and produce each “widget” and you inherently agree/acknowledge that a certain profit has to be allowed in order for the company to 1-stay in business, 2-pay its employees and costs and 3- make a reasonable profit to develop further products (etc). Why should health care be ANy different? The main impediments, as I see them, are individual greed, insurance company middlemen, and the widespread perception that health care should be free. I think that last one is changing rapidly. But the former two remain as issues to overcome.

Guest
Barry Carol
Aug 8, 2014

The phantom billing practice exists because the feds require providers to bill all patients and their insurers the same amount which is the artificially high full list price or chargemaster rate in the case of hospitals. So, even Medicare and Medicaid get billed at full list and then they pay their administered (dictated) rate and commercial insurers pay their contract rate if they have one.

It seems that this crazy system could be fixed by allowing providers to bill patients and insurers the rate that the insurer has agreed to pay or, in the case of the public insurers, their administered price. People without insurance could be billed at some reasonable percentage above Medicare which I would define as 115% and perhaps a bit more for outpatient services for which Medicare tends to underpay more than inpatient services. NJ requires hospitals to limit charges to 115% of Medicare for uninsured patients with income below 500% of the federal poverty level (FPL) which currently translates to about $120K for a family of four.

Meanwhile, the confidentiality agreements between insurers and providers need to be eliminated so both patients and referring doctors can easily learn the insurer’s contract payment rate before services are rendered.

Guest
Peter1
Aug 8, 2014

“The main impediments, as I see them, are individual greed, insurance company middlemen,…”

Hence my question above about what does it costs in other industrialized countries that have much more government control – there is no need to individually negotiate, especially based on, “just because”, the government does the negotiating and keeps costs at about half what we pay. However the insurance industry will argue they make less than 5% profit, so they’re not to blame.

“…and the widespread perception that health care should be free.”

At these prices it’s not free. But the “let the patient pay use reduction movement” will argue that if patients are paying more then they will use less. Don’t these high prices cause less use – isn’t that good?

Guest
Aug 8, 2014

Do you want the government to determine when you need an imaging study or lab test? Or would you rather discuss that issue with a physician, who is preferably free of financial attachments to said study/test?

Do you think that the costs of services in other countries are good benchmarks for services and goods provided in the USA? If so, on what economic basis do you feel that way? The suggestion that physicians should make the same, lab tests or imaging studies should be similar, or goods and services such as bread, cars, toothbrushes, etc., should cost the same in the USA as in Australia, Russia, South Africa, France, etc., is just not based in economic reality.

Guest
Peter1
Aug 8, 2014

@ Paul,

Paul, there is a trade off for cost and access. In those countries docs determine the “need” while some restrictions on access is required for the cost. Is triage making some wait in line unethical? Do docs call for more tests when they own the lab?

Am I entitled to know what you pay for supplies, overhead and labor so I can “negotiate” a better price with you? How is the costs here good “benchmarks” on the true cost of health care?

The cost in other countries is reflective of more government control. As a doc I expect you not to want that for obvious reasons.

Do you think the contracted price insurance pays to hospitals/docs to be public knowledge?