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Compare Medical Costs

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
October 22, 2008

In most cases, before we make a purchase, we shop around, comparing prices and quality and even warrantees on everything from cars to furniture to coffee pots. Yet that’s not how it goes when it comes to health care. If your doctor orders a test, you get it done, typically without knowing how much it will cost.

Now, if you want to do the same kind of comparison shopping, you can.

A new Web site developed with the help of UNH’s New Hampshire Institute for Health Policy offers a hospital-to-hospital price list for everything from a CAT scan to having a baby.

Here are some examples of the cost variations you’ll discover on NhHealthcost.usnh.edu. Prices are estimates, based on paid claims and specific plans. Not all plans list every test.

With an HMO, at Bedford Ambulatory Surgical Center, a colonoscopy is $1,082; that’s the low. The highest price listed is $3,321 at Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital. A chest x-ray at Cottage Hospital in Woodsville is $182 and $797 at Mary Hitchcock Hospital. And the variance for gallbladder surgery, according to the Web site, is more than $12,000--$4,694 at Cheshire Medical Center and $16,786 at Littleton Regional Hospital. Again, prices are estimates.

What’s important to note isn’t the actual numbers but the fact that there is such a difference in the cost of medical service depending on where you go. And if you check out the site, you’ll find it isn’t always more expensive at the larger hospitals like Exeter, Wentworth Douglas or Portsmouth Regional. It really depends on the procedure.

The purpose of Healthcost is to provide price transparency, allowing consumers to know the cost of care before they receive it and give them a choice on where to obtain the treatment they need.

The Healthcost Web site was developed by the NH Institute for Health Policy and Practice, New Hampshire Health Information Center, and Web Solutions for the New Hampshire Insurance Department.

To compare costs at hospitals around the state, or for more information, go to
http://nhhealthcost.usnh.edu/.


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