PriceCheck and a price change: Why we changed a mammogram price listing

Filed Under: Costs, Patients, Providers

- photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

We seldom change the prices we collect in our pricing survey. But we did it yesterday.

Here’s what happened, when a reader pointed out what she thought was a faulty price in our New York City listings for cash or self-pay mammograms.

A reader sent an email

Hello,
I just wanted to let you know that the mammogram self-pay cash price listed on your website for Mount Sinai Radiology Associates West is not $77. I called this morning to inquire about the cash price & was told it was $600.
https://clearhealthcosts.com/search/?query=77057+Mammogram+screening&zip_code=10036&radius=5&submit=

Your website is fantastic.

Thanks.

I replied

Hi, thank you so much for this.

We’ll call them again and ask — we have a fixed methodology and script when we do it, to make sure that the ask is consistent. Though it is not unheard of for the same office to have several different people who will deliver different answers to the exact same question.

Thanks so much for your praise — you just made my day!

How did you find us? cheers jeanne

She answered

Thanks for your great work. I discovered your site while Googling healthcare prices for various procedures. My husband & I have a very high-deductible insurance plan – an older plan that was grandfathered in under the Affordable Care Act. I’ve learned (through bitter experience!) that the “discounted” secret prices our insurance company negotiates with providers are often many times the self-pay cash price. I’ve managed to negotiate some of these inflated prices down by as much as 50% after receiving the bill, but the process is time-consuming and stressful. Now we just try to find a fair cash price. Your site is one of many websites that I refer to.

Best,

I replied
Thanks for this! Wow!!!!  You made my day!!
Would you be interested in writing about your hacks for the blog? We’re always eager to find fresh new ways to tell people how to navigate — maybe you could write about the mammogram price search?

I can also report back.

I made the call back to Mount Sinai after we heard from you, because we like to jump on problems as soon as we hear about them. They sent me to Mount Sinai Central, the Dubin Center, at 1176 Fifth Ave., though I thought I was calling Mount Sinai West Radiological Associates, the one you flagged us to.

First, I should say that the person who got the first price from Mount Sinai is one of our best reporters, and I have no doubt that is what she was told.

My experience: After 30 minutes on hold at three separate places, I got the folks on the other end of the line to say their cash rate was $195. I asked to confirm this is Mount Sinai West, and they said No, it’s the Dubin Center. They said they didn’t know the price at Mount Sinai West, because it’s a different billing office.

After 10 minutes trying to find the Mount Sinai West phone number (confusingly weird online, gotta say), I decided we’d just turn “off” that faulty price and replace it with the $195 at the Dubin Center. Which we did.

So if you want a Mount Sinai mammo, you should be able to get for $195!

Thanks again for flagging us to the problem. I’m thinking about writing about it, because we like to go on the record with stuff like this. We’re all about transparency.

Let me know if there’s anything else we need to know!

She replied

You helped me make my decision about where to have my next mammogram – the Dubin Center! Thank you.

Unfortunately I don’t have much to offer about mammogram price research. I can give you the names of the sites I use to research prices, but I’m not an expert.