News and notes

They didn’t cover this in Econ 101

If you’ve ever felt a twinge of guilt for not asking about the price of medical care
beforehand, don’t worry about it. Because apparently many hospitals don’t know the price either.

The latest news on that front: Researchers who asked hundreds of hospitals about the price
for a common elective procedure, a total hip replacement, found that getting such
information was often difficult, according to a report in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“Many health care providers are not able to provide reasonable price quotes,” the authors
note. “We found that only 16 percent of a randomly selected group of U.S. hospitals were
able to provide a complete bundled price, though an additional 47 percent of hospitals
could provide a complete price when hospitals and health care providers were contacted
separately.”

And price does matter. When the researchers did see a pricetag, the undiscounted list price without insurance varied by a factor of more than 10 — from $11,100 to $125,798.

(For comparison, check our price reports from Healthcare Blue Book for more than 20 common procedures.)

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