A survey of 54 hospitals in six metropolitan areas across the United States reveals that consumers seeking a price estimate for a routine medical procedure face a difficult and frustrating task, despite price transparency provisions in the Affordable Care Act and five of the six states, according to a new Pioneer Institute Policy Brief – “Healthcare Prices for Common Procedures Are Hard for Customers to Obtain: Survey finds hospitals not prepared to give price information to consumers.”
For the survey researchers called hospitals in and around Des Moines, IA, Raleigh-Durham, NC, Orlando, FL, Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX, New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA asking for the price of an MRI of the left knee without contrast. For 57 percent of the hospitals it took more than 15 minutes to get a complete price that included the radiologist’s fee for reading the MRI. Two-thirds of the time, researchers had to call a separate number or organization to obtain an estimate for the reading fee.
Of the 40 hospitals that provided complete information, MRI price estimates ranged from $400 at Huntington Hospital in Los Angeles to $4,544 at New York City’s Montefiore Medical Center. It was clear to the researchers that front-line employees at most of the hospitals had no idea what to do with price requests. They experienced long waits on hold, had to call multiple times and leave messages, endured multiple transfers and ultimately a number of dropped calls. Almost none of the hospital websites provided easy access to price information.
- Pioneer Institute Policy Brief: Healthcare Prices for Common Procedures Are Hard for Customers to Obtain: Survey finds hospitals not prepared to give price information to consumers (PDF)