Should you check procedure rates before going to the hospital?


This is about Maryland hospitals, but the information applies everywhere. For instance, hospitals now break a lot of costs out separately that used to be bundled and covered by your insurance:

Despite having state-wide cost-control measures in place, not all medical procedures at Maryland hospitals are treated equally. With the increase cost of deductibles and co-pays, people have started to shop around for hospitals that offer cheaper procedures.

Unfortunately for many of those in Maryland, hospitals do not make it easy for people to obtain answers regarding the cost of certain procedures. Even though the State of Maryland has control over how much hospitals can charge, people still find it difficult to get information about the cost of treatment. This lack of information makes it difficult for people who need to comparison shop for cheaper hospitals because of the rising deductibles.

The rise in comparison shopping begs the question of why prices vary so greatly at different Maryland hospitals. In some Maryland hospitals, the price of certain procedures is more than twice as much than at other Maryland hospitals. For instance, at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, the price of having a baby is $4,895, while at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the cost averages at about $11,752.

However, when hospitals cite these averages, they often do not take into account the cost of complications, as well as certain lab tests. Since every patient is different and every procedure is different, can a person really shop around when considering different procedures?

Maryland officials who help determine the price of procedures at different hospitals insist that the differing prices are not based on the quality of service, but on the types of procedures offered and the number of patients who can afford to pay for the procedures.

Thus, a procedure at one hospital may be greater because Maryland allows the hospitals to increase the price of procedures to make up for the inability of certain patients to pay. This often means that hospitals in wealthier communities generally have lower prices.

According to personal injury attorney Matthew Davey, “The most important thing someone should do when first injured in an accident of any kind is to get medical attention. Due to the potential immediacy of their injuries however, they likely won’t have the opportunity to consider treatment costs, especially if they need extensive procedures.”

It is essential that consumers make an effort to both understand the price of hospital services, as well as, better understand healthcare options. It may be more cost effective and overall better for a person’s health if they pay more for a superior health insurance package that will allow them to have a lower deductible than shop around for the cost of procedures, which may vary based on the person.