Medicine in the USA: why the prices for the same services can vary greatly
No one really knows how much medical care costs, and many people get unexpected medical bills for thousands of dollars.
Last fall, Miriam Harper was in the 12 week of pregnancy when she lost her baby. The emotional state after a miscarriage was quite severe. But worst of all is the combination of medical services and prices.
Her first visit, when the bleeding started, was to the local maternity center. As a result of the visit and two ultrasound examinations, she received a payment of $ 150. Harper's symptoms later worsened, and she went to the local county hospital. She was sent home, but she fainted early in the morning.
After she was taken to the hospital, the woman underwent the same two ultrasound examinations, but this time at a cost of 1500 dollars. Harper was shocked by the huge difference in the cost of the two tests.
Baylor Scott & White Hospital refused to pay Harper bills as part of a financial assistance program, but she still owes money to the surgeon and other medical facility.
Prices for medical services vary greatly even within the same city. ClearHealthCosts conducted a price study and found significant discrepancies.
Low back MRI without contrast costs between 295 and 5323 dollars in cash. Mammography ranges from 139 to 743 dollars.
At the Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, a cardiovascular stress test costs 698 dollars. Just a mile from Baylor Scott & White, the same test costs 8 217 dollars.
“This is because someone can afford it,” says Dr. Aaron Carroll, a professor of pediatrics and a health researcher. “If someone is willing to pay, then someone can charge this amount.”
Mark Webb, a resident of the Bay Area, also happened to learn about high medical prices. When the doctor recommended that he do a routine colonoscopy, Webb called the center providing this service to find out the maximum bill he would have to face.
He was informed of a price range from 1300 to 2400 dollars. The man found this acceptable, but the bills that arrived ultimately astounded.
Only for the procedure he paid 4800 dollars. The doctor took another 3800 dollars. The pathologist requested 300 dollars.
“If they told me that they would have to pay almost 9000 dollars in bills, I would either postpone the examination or go to another center,” Webb said.
Mark paid over 4000 dollars from his pocket. “This is either unethical or dishonest,” he summarized about the healthcare system.
ClearHealthCosts found that prices in the bay area also vary widely.
On the subject: Medical insurance in the USA: how to start a choice
At SimonMed Imaging in San Francisco, an upper back MRI costs 550 dollars. Four miles from St. Mary's Medical Center, the price is 5 751 dollars.
“I note: you must remember that people who provide medical services are also trying to make money,” Carroll argued.
While Ashley Thompson, senior vice president of policy analysis at the American Hospital Association, said: it would be wrong to say that hospitals have big profits.
“Each hospital sets its prices in accordance with its own methodology,” Thompson said. “It is noteworthy that most people are interested not so much in what is charged for the service, but in what they will have to pay out of pocket.”
But she admits that there are no rules or regulations governing hospital pricing.
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