If you could know the price of a MRI, would you ask? Id told, would you comparison shop?
Massachusetts decided to find out by requiring hospitals and doctors to tell consumers the prices of medical services if they ask, as part of a health care cost control law.
So the intrepid journalists at WBUR in Boston decided to give it a try. They tapped a 32-year-old pregnant real estate agent and had her compare prices for a vaginal delivery. Or try to.
And this is healthcare pricing:
Phone call #1.
Call rerouted to different part of hospital network.
Call rerouted to person with price list who will be out for two weeks.
Tries other billing dept. number, leaves message.
Meanwhile tries different hospital. Transferred four times, leaves message.
Waits two days for call back.
Finds one provider who gives pricing in one phone call -- well, a price range, anyway:
$3,000 - $5,000 for a normal vaginal delivery.
Gets return phone call from other provider who quotes "average" price range:
$10,000 and $16,000
Exact price is available if consumer has "CPT code"
Tries to get CPT code from obstetrician; told to call back hospital
But there's good news: After hearing WBUR's story, a hospital spokesman said, "This will change." Read the story.