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Health cost transparency now: A doctor speaks out

Posted by on September 5, 2014

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Summary: Transparency, now: that’s what one doctor acquaintance says about health costs. Doctors are increasingly upset by health care pricing. When I heard not long ago from a California surgeon who had learned of our work via our PriceCheck project in California, I asked him if he wanted to do an interview for our blog telling us what he knows and what he’s learned. Read on for a post from Dr. Stephen Rakower, or ….

 

 


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Preventive care coverage via the A.C.A.: A toolkit from the National Women’s Law Center

Posted by on September 3, 2014

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Summary: The Affordable Care Act mandates that preventive coverage of many types should be free under A.C.A. plans. But we have learned that not every plan is covering things in the same way. What to do? Here’s a toolkit from the National Women’s Law Center that covers just about every eventuality. What’s covered, how it’s covered, sample scripts and letters.

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How much does an X-ray cost? $20 or $36 …. or $988?

Posted by on September 2, 2014

Summary: What does an X-ray cost? You could be paying $20, or $402.05. We even heard of a $988 X-ray, for which the patient — an insured person! — is being asked to pay $500. You would think something like an X-ray would have fairly uniform pricing. Think again.

 

 


 

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How much did your IUD cost? PriceCheck wants to know

Posted by on August 25, 2014

Summary: How much did you pay for your IUD? Our #PriceCheck crowdsourcing project in California is turning to IUD prices, starting today. An IUD can range from a few hundred dollars to $2,600, according to our price survey. And! If you don’t have an IUD, maybe you want to share a vasectomy price.

 

 

 


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Three MRI pricing sets, in graphic form: Our PriceCheck project

Posted by on August 18, 2014

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Summary: We asked our communities to share their MRI prices in our California crowdsourcing project. Charged prices for four common MRI’s ranged from $278 to $8,423. Insurers’ payments ranged from $0 to $1,660; patients’ payments ranged from $0 to $2,650. MRI pricing is a complete mystery: What should you pay? Can you ask for a discount? Click through for some graphics, or …

 

 


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Four MRI’s: PriceCheckers pay both $305 and, maybe, $2,294

Posted by on August 17, 2014

Summary: You really never know what things will cost in the health-care marketplace. Here are four PriceCheck shares, from four identical MRI’s. The prices? $305 and $2,294. Also $1,000 and $715.

These are four MRI’s of the cervical spine, the simplest kind, without dye or contrast (HCPCS code 72141). They should be roughly comparable. Two were in Oakland, one in San Bruno and one in San Diego. The charged prices are all over the map — which we knew already, because charged prices vary a lot.

But what’s being paid? $305 and $2,294. Also $1,000 and $715. Click the image to enlarge the spreadsheet.

What can you do? If you are having a procedure, ask in advance, “What will this cost? What will it cost me?”

For more, go to our PriceCheck launch page, or check out our PriceCheck Tumblr, which collects all our PriceCheck coverage.

MRI cost

How much does an MRI cost? Here are four very similar MRI shares from our PriceCheck community.

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Seeking value in hospital quality ratings: Health Leaders Media

Posted by on August 16, 2014

Summary: We are often asked about quality rankings systems in health care: Which ones are good? Which are bad? Why don’t we include quality along with prices on our site? Our answer: We are excited to see people working on measuring quality, but the quality measurements draw such different conclusions that you almost want to rate the ratings systems. Beyond that, if we decided we wouldn’t reveal prices until we had what we thought were good quality ratings, we might never reveal prices. In one sense, quality rankings have tried to precede price revelations, but that hasn’t completely worked. So we’re revealing prices, in the hopes that the conversation will change a bit: What makes that $6,000 MRI 20 times better than the $300 one? Others have misgivings about quality rankings, too. Click through for another opinion, or ….

 

 


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Californians are upset about MRI prices: PriceCheck on KQED Forum

Posted by on August 8, 2014

Summary: Californians are really upset about health care prices, we learned as were featured on KQED Forum, the morning live call-in program on KQED public radio in San Francisco. The show featured a discussion of back MRI prices and other topics related to PriceCheck, our crowdsourcing project with KQED and KPCC public radio in Los Angeles. Lisa Aliferis, editor of KQED’s State of Health blog, and I had a lot of engaged callers, and some terrific conversation with host Joshua Johnson. Click here to listen, or click through for an image with the link.

 

 


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The disturbing confessions of a medical scribe: Adding to the bill

Posted by on August 8, 2014

Summary: How a little bit of money can become a lot of money is described here in an anonymous blog post by a “scribe,” a person occupying this relatively new role of helping a physician document charges for billing. The post appears on kevinmd.com, detailing how $20 here and $30 there, and an “autocomplete” on a patient’s chart, can suddenly mean big money. Keep reading, or…

 

 


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Price transparency brought lower costs, more competition, study says

Posted by on August 5, 2014

Summary: What happens when prices are visible? Well, prices go down, and providers compete. So: health-care marketplace, are you listening? Here’s a brand-new study about price transparency from the influential journal Health Affairs.

 

 


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