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HCCI Research Finds Widespread Variation in Prices for 6 Common Services Across & Within Metro Areas

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In the latest volume of the Healthy Marketplace Index (HMI), Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) analyzed a subset of negotiated rates for specific services to report prices for 6 commonly-used services among individuals with employer-sponsored insurance and found striking variation.

Across metro areas, they found up to 25-fold variation in median prices of the same services. Service prices also varied widely within metro areas –finding up to a 39-fold price difference for the exact same service, even after removing the top and bottom 10% of prices to exclude outlier effects.

For this study, the following services were analyzed:

  • Two types of childbirth admissions—the most common inpatient admissions in the HCCI dataset in 2016: C-section delivery and vaginal delivery.
  • Two types of frequently performed lab tests: a common blood test (comprehensive metabolic panel) and a screening mammogram (bilateral screening mammographies with computer-aided detection).
  • Two types of office visits that accounted for 11% of all professional services in 2016: established mid-level expanded problem office visit, new patient mid-level expanded problem office visit.

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