How much does a colonoscopy cost? Part 2

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Wait, really?

If you were looking for an answer to this question, you might go ask your insurance company. Mine – United HealthCare — has a treatment cost estimator online.  (Wait, should I link here to the news story about United Healthcare and price-fixing? To www.myuhc.com web site, with the happy strawberries? To the Wikipedia article, with some not fully promotional information? To the parent company’s Web site?)

Just a note: as a preventive treatment, for some companies the colonoscopy is free. It is also a powerful predictor of future problems, which is why it is recommended for most adults over 50.

My insurance company predicted this: “Estimated Treatment Cost: $1,464-3,609; Plan Responsibility: $1,125-2,952; Member Responsibility: $339-657.”

My actual experience:  Bill totaled $2,797; plan paid $2,263.85; my co-pay was $90.

A girlfriend’s experience: Bill totaled $5,544, plan paid $2,750.08, her copay was 0. (She had a different provider and has a different insurance plan.)

She also had $950 in lab charges, while I had $250. You don’t need to think about that too long, but still.

If you wanted to ask the question “how much does it cost?” you might go on the Web. There are a lot of services and sites out there that seek to answer this question. You can see a number of them on our links page. Here’s a sampling.

One  said the range would be  from $1,480 to $5,044.

Another site pegged the price at a cool $1,550, and offered a printable  detailed pricing agreement.

A third said the range of prices was from  $1,750 to $23,500. Yep, $23,500. And they helpfully offered to send an e-mail to providers asking them to submit a bid.

A fourth site said the range would be from $2010 to $3674, with the average out-of-pocket payment  ranging from zero to more than $1,000.

Another site, this one the Medicare reimbursement rate schedule, said the cost would be $2,470, with the average Medicare reimbursement $329. Oddly, in Saratoga, the average submitted charge for this procedure is $799, while in Queens, the average submitted charge is $4,500.

Or you could go to www.pricedoc.com, which is essentially a Priceline  site for medical procedures, where you name your price and see if anyone bids, but without William Shatner. I went and offered a price of $2,797 for a colonoscopy. Sadly, there were no takers.  (I even named a price of $10,000, but got no takers there, either.)

So how much does it cost?