The Price is Right

How much does knee replacement surgery cost? How about a mammogram? A new study by the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) looked at the cost of more than 240 common medical services across the country and claims what you pay depends on where you live.

From NBC News:

The national average for a knee replacement is $33,098, the organization found. But this operation costs nearly $39,000 in Indiana and Minnesota, $40,000 in New Hampshire and Wisconsin and $43,000 in Oregon, while you can get one for just $24,000 in New Jersey. In Sacramento, California, a knee replacement costs $57,000, while the California average is just under $40,000.

An ultrasound for a pregnant woman costs an average of $268. But Alaskans pay $895 for the scans and they cost $201 in Arizona. Got cataracts? It’ll cost you $8,000 to get one removed in Alaska, compared to $2,300 in Florida. The national average? $3,300.

How did Arizona do? Prices here are a lot lower than they are in many other states. According to a story in Healthcare Finance News, 90 percent of the services in Arizona are priced lower than the national average. The National Public Radio (NPR) graphic below shows our state compared to the national average in three different procedures.


The NPR report went on to say, “The new data may give insurers and consumers better ammunition to shop around for lower prices or to negotiate better deals. But that will require people taking a different approach to choosing health care. People should be willing to travel farther for services, (Health Policy and Economics professor at Yale University, Zack) Cooper says. That would put powerful hospital systems in different cities in competition with one another, perhaps putting pressure on prices.

The HCCI study points out that prices vary greatly, but why? Well, the report’s authors say wages, rent, market power and the lack of transparency are among the reasons for wide disparity in prices.

Share your thoughts on this new report. Do you think people can use the information to save money? And let us know if you are surprised that Arizona costs are often below the national average. Your input helps us better understand what our partners are thinking and that is critical to our long term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!



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