New Data Shows Differing Prices In Medical Procedures Across Cities

| by Arthur Kogan

New data compiled by Gawker sheds light on the alarming differences in the costs of medical procedures across U.S. cities.

There is no question the U.S. health care system is not perfect — and far from it. One of the major issues in the health care system is the lack of price transparency — consumers do not know how much procedures will cost and the price varies greatly depending on where you live, as the data from HealthSparq shows.

A tonsillectomy, one of the more common surgical procedures in which each tonsil is removed, can range from $4,000 to as much as $14,000 depending on the city in which you live, Daily Mail reports.

A tonsillectomy can cost $3,542 in Washington D.C, $4,639 in Houston, $5,136 in Los Angeles, $5,419 in New York City, $9,076 in Miami and up to $14,253 in San Francisco.

A carpal tunnel release procedure can cost an estimated $20,000 at a Houston surgical center. The same procedure can range from $5,000 to $8,000 in other cities.

Health care costs tend to not be publicly advertised simply because they vary based on who ends up paying for them. As a result, insurers do not like to reveal the amount that is negotiated.

Because of the ambiguity, many health care analysts and legislators have begun pushing for transparency in health care costs. Susan Zepeda, CEO and president of The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, says that giving clear information about prices is the first step to improving the health of consumers.

"Consumers can compare apples to apples," she says. "What is a particular procedure going to cost if I have it at this hospital versus that outpatient surgery center? What are my co-pays going to be or my deductibles under my insurance plan?"

Kentucky is one of many states that has no law that mandates transparency in health care. Support for the idea is growing rapidly and Zepeda says consumers and employers are "looking for a square deal" and that starts with knowing what insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid, actually pay on claims.

"Sunshine on pricing will make sure that we're all playing by the same rules," says Zepeda.

Sources: Daily Mail, Gawker, Public News Service              

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons