Comparing Treatment Costs

Prices for the same medical procedure can vary by more than 700% in the same city, according to a report from two business coalitions representing the nation’s largest employers—the Catalyst for Payment Reform and the Health Care Incentives Improvement Project.

Only Massachusetts and New Hampshire scored an “A” grade for sharing extensive price information on inpatient and outpatient services. Only 14 statesreceived a grade of “C” or better, whereas 36 states (72%) scored a “D” or “F.” Although the majority of states provide information about charges on public websites, the data can be sketchy and is only representative of charges submitted by the facility and not the amount that actually ends up being paid.

Some insurers and employers do provide online tools that show a range of prices among network providers.  There are now some websites, including fairhealthconsumer.org, healthcarebluebook.com, newchoicehealth.com and saveonmedical.com that may be of some assistance. Be aware, however, that like any other comparison shopping exercise, the process can be time consuming.