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Shopping for Health Services Can Save Money

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
September 29, 2010

In a new video from Healthy UNH, President Mark Huddleston points out how paying less for a medical test or procedure can impact us individually, saying every dollar spent is a dollar less going to other things, including our base pay.

Meaning that embracing the cost variation concept of health care could eventually pay dividends. In our pockets.

UNH spends about $40 million a year on health care and that rate has been growing at about 10 percent a year for the last 10 years.

Did you know there is almost a 70 percent variation across the state in what providers charge for the exact same test or procedure?  Take a chest x-ray. The difference between what it will cost Harvard Pilgrim if you go to Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in Lebanon or St. Joseph’s Hospital in Concord is $739: it’s $978 at Mary Hitchcock compared to $239 at St. Joseph’s. The same x-ray is $373 at Exeter Hospital and $430 at Wentworth Douglas Hospital in Dover.

A colonoscopy at Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester is $1,853; at Exeter Hospital it’s $2,281 and at Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital in Colebrook, $3,524. And having a baby can range from $6,928 at Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth to $9,288 at Portsmouth to $12,280 at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital. Big difference.

If you’re having an annual physical in Keene, it will cost between $179 to $219. In Plymouth, faculty and staff residing near the PSC campus can expect to pay between $203 to $302. And in the UNH/Durham area, the cost ranges between $150 and $218.

You can compare prices at NH HealthCost (nhhealthcost.usnh.edu), a website developed to provide information on the price of medical care in New Hampshire. It was created in 2005 as a joint effort between the NH Insurance Department and the Institute for Health Policy and Practice, to make health care cost information easier to find and understand.

The hope is that by making the information more readily available, the cost for care might come down. Remember: the more Harvard Pilgrim pays providers, the more Harvard Pilgrim must charge USNH to insure its employees. Higher insurance costs mean higher premiums for both USNH and employees. Higher premiums mean less money in your pocket.

The Healthy UNH video will be presented to departments around campus this fall during the Healthy UNH Brown Bag Series. Hunan Resources will be contacting departments and organizations to schedule presentations by Healthy UNH staff.  

 To schedule a presentation or for questions, contact Chris VanHorn, training and wellness coordinator, Office of Human Resources, 2-0519 or chris.vanhorn@unh.edu


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