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