Wednesday, December 4, 2013

As a follow-up... yesterday's post on price-gouging at America's hospitals, here's a post by Sarah Kliff from Wonkblog, "Nearly all hospitals will give you the price of parking. Barely any will give you the price of health care."

Two researchers in Philadelphia reached out to 20 local hospitals, asking them how much they would charge for electrocardiogram. This is a pretty simple test to measure the rate of a heartbeat. It doesn't involve multiple doctors, nor is there any chance of a complication. And that was key to the study: The authors wanted to look at one of the most basic medical tests out there and see if hospitals could provide a price for it.

In the phone calls, the researchers would say they were uninsured and planning to pay for the test themselves, asking how much that would cost. Three hospitals were able to provide that information. By way of contrast, 19 hospitals were able to respond to a query about how much it would cost to park at the hospital, even when some of those parking prices had a few variables.

"Hospitals seem able to provide prices when they want to; yet for even basic medical services, prices remain opaque," the researchers write.

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