Medical providers in different regions of the U.S. routinely charge different fees for the same procedure.
Now, a new report examining these variances is sure to discourage those trying to rein in health insurance plan costs.
The study — of fees for 240 medical procedures in states and cities nationwide — reveals a shocking range of prices charged for the same procedure.
The authors of the study, the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI), showed one example: a knee replacement. A commonly used benchmark, the surgery is generally not an emergency procedure, the steps involved are well-documented, and most employer plans cover it. The authors offered these comparisons to highlight the nature of the problem:
Palm Bay: $44,237
New York City: $36,584
State-by-state comparisons are eye-popping, with Arizona emerging as generally the least expensive state for most procedures studied. For instance, a knee replacement there costs an average of $21,976 to $38,000 less than charged by health care providers in Sacramento. Alaska is generally the most expensive state, not surprising given the exclusive market providers there enjoy.