Good news for folks looking for better value in healthcare! A large survey released by UnitedHealth last week reported that the number of people who comparison shop for health care has more than doubled in the last 4 years (from 14% in 2012 to 32% in 2016). It’s a small step, but it’s important and promising. More of us need to demand prices for health services, before they are rendered. Believe it or not, asking questions about costs is the surest way to bring them down! Pricing Transparency is the future of health care, which is why we’ve embraced it so enthusiastically at Monticello Community Surgery Center.
How will transparency change health care? When providers can’t hide behind secret contracts and opaque pricing, the price of the services they provide will naturally begin to mirror their actual costs, especially in competitive markets. Amazingly, the simply act of calling and asking about prices by itself can cause them to be magically lowered.
A real example. I spoke with a patient last year who came from Pennsylvania for knee surgery after shopping around the country for the best combination of value and quality, eventually arriving at MCSC. She told me after calling her hometown hospital repeatedly, she was reluctantly given a price, only to have the hospital call back one hour later saying they could offer her ‘a renegotiated price,’ dropping from $24,000 to $18,000. A six thousand dollar reduction simply because she asked about the price! (She eventually had surgery at MCSC for a fair, all inclusive price of $4500). Such absurdities abound in health care and will persist until people get fed up enough to stop it. Even folks with insurance should comparison shop. When we don’t, premiums will keep skyrocketing. Insurance companies want premiums to sky rocket, its how they make more money.
Prices for the same procedure vary widely. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2015 that in LA alone, the price a total knee replacement varied from $37,000 to $240,000. Sadly, you don’t get more from the more expensive procedure, you just get more ripped off. Big academic studies have found no relationship between quality and cost in the US. In fact, the opposite is true. American consumers are paying 50-200% more for health care than anyone else in the world but we rank 26th for life expectancy. On almost every quality indicators our health system does poorly, especially considering how much we pay.
It’s time to bring prices down. Empower yourself and save money! If you need any health service, regardless of your insurance status, exercise your right as a consumer and demand to know prices. If you or someone you love needs day surgery that’s easy – we post prices right on our website. Win win win. You get surgery in the elegant privacy of Charlottesville’s premier surgery center, you save money and you make a positive contribution towards real healthcare reform.