Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Health Care Cost Comparisons

If you're uninsured and need a radiology test or medication, what might it cost here in Chicago? Thanks to Leslie's List, you can compare different centers head-to-head, albeit with some limitations:
BE AWARE! The prices quoted here may be in error for a multitude of reasons, including: erroneous information given by radiology center staff, improper recording of the information by Leslie's List(TM) staff, improper entering of the data into the database, and price changes made by the radiology center since we last called them.
Leslie further clarifies what the prices mean:
"Just wanted to clarify the pricing of the testing included on our site. We always ask what physician reading fees are, as we realize that can tack on another 10-20% or so to the total charge. In many cases, the fee is included. In other cases, okay I'll just say it- often in the large hospital facilities- noone was ever able to tell us what the fees were, even after several calls to different deparments in the hospital. So in those cases, the fee is not included. In LesliesList.org you can click on the individual sites on the search results and you can see the breakdown of charges. Lastly, we only include radiology tests that each radiology site is fully accredited to do by the American College of Radiology."
Although the number of centers is limited, it demonstrates the wide price differential between centers. CT of the chest with and without contrast can vary between $543 and $2498, depending on where its performed.

What I also found was that the type of CT (16- or 64-slice) was not mentioned in the site (newer scanners might have different prices), but still, I found this site easy-to-use and informative.

So go ahead, check it out and compare. It might just save you a bundle.


h/t: The Chicago Tribune's Triage blog.


Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a recent post by Shadowfax, about what Quest billed for a lab test and venipuncture (over $100) vs what BCBS paid (about. $25). His point: Why don't providers just charge everyone the same low rate instead of playing pricing games w/insurance companies and the uninsured?

Anonymous said...

I'm AMAZED at the difference in price! I was without insurance for a while and unfortunately had some medical problems during that time - I negotiated with everyone I could make an appointment with or talk to on the phone. It was rare that a doctor wasn't willing to lower his fees. I found that it helps to find out what a major insurer would pay the doc, like blue cross (NOT medicaid/care), just to see what the doc would get paid if I had had run-of-the-mill insurance.