Booster Shots

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Maybe someday, the cost of medical procedures won't be such a mystery

April 26, 2010 |  2:38 pm

Good luck figuring out how much that knee surgery might set you back. But with healthcare consumers starting to ask more questions about what they're actually getting for their medical money, and trying to predict how much they might have to spend, that might be changing.

As Los Angeles TImes reporter Duke Helfand writes in the article "Healthcare Providers Experiment With Lump-Sum Pricing":

"Wildly different prices for the same medical procedures, sometimes in the same towns, are prompting doctors and hospitals across the nation to experiment with new ways to cut unpredictable healthcare spending that often leaves consumers bewildered and financially ruined.

In one closely watched test beginning in August, several of California's best-known healthcare providers — including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the UCLA Health System and Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach — will begin charging lump-sum fees for hip and knee replacements." Read full story.

Here's Time magazine columnist Barbara Kiviat lamenting the current status quo, "Can price shopping improve healthcare?" 

"I recently went to a doctor and asked how much my office visit and X-ray would cost. Staffers told me that they didn't know and, since I have insurance, I shouldn't care. I should care, though. In fact, I do." Read full column.

It would seem that we all should.  

-- Tami Dennis