Well, according to a recent survey of hospitals throughout the United States, many don't know!
And those hospitals that could offer a price, offer from a range of just over $10,000, to well over $100,000. So why the discrepancy?
Most hospitals are used to dealing with insurance companies and Medicare, not consumers. Most hospitals don't think much about price competition for services. Therefore, charges are often arbitrary, and don't make much sense.
In this survey, a caller asked for the price of a hip replacement. She said on the phone that her grandmother needed a new hip, and was willing to pay out of pocket. She just wanted to know how much? Many hospitals couldn't provide an answer, and those that could provided quite a range.
The truth is, that there is little variation in what is done to perform a hip replacement. Some hospitals may have more cost associated with their service, but the differences should be minimal. But the differences in price were anything but minimal!
In order to control the cost of healthcare, there must be pressure to compete on price. That pressure cannot impact the quality of care, but there has never been any evidence to show that a hospital that charges 10 times the amount for a hip replacement does a better job.
Over time, I would guess that this information becomes more widespread, and consumers will be asked to pay attention to the price of the service they are being offered.
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