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Healthcare Costs too High? Guess Again -- Fees are Higher Than You Think :  Published December 2006 All Rights Reserved


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Healthcare Costs too High? Guess Again -- Fees are Higher Than You Think


Only in the United States, where healthcare costs are a free-for-all and care is not guaranteed, do consumers need to understand costs. A survey conducted by HealthMarkets of North Richland Hills, TX, found that 70 percent in the United States were off on their estimations of procedural costs and sometimes patients guessed costs were only 1/10th of the actual high-end.

Sixty percent of consumers said healthcare insurance is not affordable. Some 24 percent said they have skipped a doctor visit for medical problems because they could not afford the cost.

“Health care is taking a bigger and bigger bite out of family budgets, forcing people to make very difficult decisions,” said HealthMarkets president and CEO William J. Gedwed.

When it comes to estimating the cost of health care, usually, the price is wrong, HealthMarkets concluded. Most adults (65 percent) think that, in general, a high-priced doctor in the United States charges two or three times as much for the same procedure as a low-priced doctor. In fact, a review of HealthMarkets data for several selected procedures shows that some doctors charge nearly 10 times what others charge for the same procedure.

“Most consumers have no idea how much health care costs or how much it varies from one provider to another,” Gedwed said. “If consumers are going to effectively manage their health care dollars, they need to know how much things will cost them.”

The survey found 73 percent thought their doctors would charge no more than $2,000 for a CT scan of the abdomen (2005 data put the low price at $298.) "In fact, the actual charge for the same CT scan varied from $298 to $2,858..." according to HealthMarkets 2005 claims data.

If you are looking for a knee replacement, 83 percent of those asked said the highest price would be no more than $66,000. "In fact, the actual price charged for a knee replacement varied from $22,000 to $77,239," the survey concluded.

One in 10 guessed the high price for a tonsillectomy with a low price of $2,300 and a high price of $13,187.

Doctor visits (in the United States doctors do not visit your home, you visit the doctor office) varied as well with a low of $60 and a high of $261.

The survey found strong demand for tools that provide greater transparency for health care services. Almost 70 percent of people said it would be useful to have online data comparing health care providers.

HealthMarkets reports offering price and quality transparency tools through the company’s CareOne Select Plans. These plans are currently sold in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, and Texas. They are sold by HealthMarkets subsidiaries The MEGA Life and Health Insurance Company and Mid-West National Life Insurance Company of Tennessee.

 

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