It is absolutely amazing that hospitals can charge people different rates depending on how they will pay. It is also amazing how the same tests can have ridiculous variability in pricing between hospitals. A recent study, pointed out here in the Washington Post, said this:
- Researchers studied charges for a variety of tests at 160 to 180 California hospitals in 2011 and found a huge variation in prices. The median charge for a basic metabolic panel, which measures sodium, potassium and glucose levels, among other indicators, was $214. But hospitals charged from $35 to $7,303, depending on the facility. None of the hospitals were identified.
- The biggest range involved charges for a lipid panel, a test that measures cholesterol and triglycerides, a type of fat (lipid), in the blood. The median charge was $220, but costs ranged from a minimum of $10 to a maximum of $10,169. Yes, more than $10,000 for a blood test that doctors typically order to check the cholesterol levels of older adults.
- The smallest range in charges was for a blood test that checks for a protein that signals muscle inflammation. It cost $10 to $628.
Read more if you need to but the bottom line is that this needs to stop. At least with the Direct Primary Model, you know what you are paying for monthly.