MemberMay 13, 2015 at 1:09 pm
Transparency in pricing for surgery
From a patient point of view, I have been saying for a long time that pricing transparency is a must. Of course pricing becomes more complicated as the difficulty of the procedure increases. This is true for any fee for service transaction such as when you take your car in for work or when a plumber or electrician works on your house. Let’s bring some reality to the situation though. If a plumber is called in to snake a drain, they pretty much can quote you a cost. Sure it might lead to a new, unknown problem but you address that as it arises, including the new cost. To me, that is akin to having your blood drawn. The cost should be known up front and if it leads to something more, then you address that as it arises.
In terms of something more complex like surgery, it would seem that there are parts to the procedure that are largely fixed in price. Then there are the parts that probably follow a fairly predictable average for the procedure. Then there might be a couple more difficult to calculate variables but they still have a max or a min and the surgeon assessment would determine that, right? Hospitals and insurance providers hire tons of number crunchers already to calculate similar things. Other industries have to stick their necks out all the time to anticipate costs and live by what they calculate. Call me callous but I feel like the lack of transparency and the ridiculous compexity of the bill paying process is just a clever way to hide how the health care consumer is being financially gouged.
I find the wild variation in facility costs (from one place to the next) to be strange and frankly alarming. I am suspect of this difference. Sure, some places have newer or different services/equipment that can account for it to some degree, but should it really vary that much, especially if my method of payment is the only variable that is different? Things such as this can explain a lot of the reason why people are becoming more and more skeptical of going to the doctor. It becomes a real shame and very real social problem if people avoid getting needed medical help because they dont trust the billing/insurance process and as a result they ascribe those feelings to the doctors and services provided.
Transparency….it seems pretty important to me.