Last week, I compared the price of Pampers Swadlers (Size 2) between three different stores and an online seller. Why? Because diapers are a necessary but expensive item on my shopping list these days and I didn’t want to miss a good deal.
So I was interested to read in today’s Roanoke Times a wonderful article on the price of medical care in Southwest Virginia.
The authors compare the costs of various in patient medical procedures at our two leading hospitals, Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital and HCA Lewis-Gale Hospital.
Would you be surprised to learn the same procedure performed at two area hospitals varies dramatically in cost?
If you asked your doctor about the cost, they probably would not know, or if they did, not be able to have a discussion about the price. But these prices are shared so that the consumers can attempt to make a more informed decision.
Bottom line, there is a significant price difference at area hospitals even for the same procedure.
Now, does that really help us when it comes to making informed medical decisions?
Allow me to use an example.
Right now, I know Pampers are the diaper for my little gal’s tush. They work. They fit. And they save me time and money in the long run cleaning clothes. What if I didn’t know the price of these items at the store? What if I had to buy them, and then three weeks later was informed of the price, and six months later, read a study that in 2012 the diapers were cheapest at Kroger. Doesn’t that sound ridiculous?
And we are talking about $20 diapers. But in the case of costly health care:
- Why are we satisfied with the fact that we do not know the cost of our own health care?
- Why is it okay that hospitals don’t have to advertise their prices, or your health insurance company (if you are lucky enough to have insurance) doesn’t have to tell you the rates they negotiated with your hospital?
- Isn’t it your right as a health care consumer to make an educated decision? what treatment you get and where, isn’t it?
- So why hide the details? Why not advertise the cost of this surgery?
Sadly, it’s like so many aspects of health care. We are simply supposed to trust we are receiving the best care, at a reasonable price and hope in the end that is true.