Cost Variances for Healthcare Procedures

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medical_billing_advocate-79Costs for medical procedures and services vary widely across the country. A recent study conducted by Castlight Health, Inc. sheds light on cost variances for healthcare procedures in different cities across the country. In this study, the 30 most populous cities were scrutinized for what some healthcare facilities charged for some common procedures and services.

Middle-aged women are expected to have mammograms performed on a regular basis. According to the study, prices range from $43 to $1,898 throughout the U.S. for a mammogram. The costliest cities on average for a mammogram rank as follows:

  • Sacramento, CA $485
  • Indianapolis, IN $431
  • San Francisco, CA $425
  • Boston, MA $409
  • Washington, DC $390
  • New York, NY $371
  • Minneapolis, MN $358
  • Miami, FL $307
  • Denver, CO $294
  • Houston, TX $283


But the fluctuations within cities are exasperating. For instance, in Dallas, Texas, the cost of a mammogram ranges between $50 and $1045. The most expensive facility was in New York City, where a facility charged $1,898, according to the study.

A simple HPV (Human Papillomavirus) test ranged in price from $32 to $626 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The same test costs from $32 to $359 in New York City, $32 to $231 in Washington, DC and $32 to $94 in Richmond, Virginia.

A preventative gynecological exam costs $80 to $386 in Boston, Massachusetts, $85 to $464 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, $96 to $250 in Nashville, Tennessee and $87 to $154 in Huntsville, Alabama.

An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a fairly common method of seeing organs and structures inside the body. The average cost of having an MRI of the lower back is $2,719 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, $1,177 in Nashville, Tennessee, $1,133 in San Diego, California and $1,055 in Jacksonville, Florida.

When journalists ask hospital administration why they charge so much more for a procedure than a facility across town, the answer, like their prices, varies wildly. A common response is that it’s the price they need to charge to cover overhead. This response makes sense, but what doesn’t make sense is that a similar facility in the same area, which offers the same services, which should have a comparable overhead, is able to charge much less.

The answer that makes much more sense is that hospitals are not held accountable for the prices they charge, so some hospitals charge whatever ludicrous, unreasonable prices they want.

The American public is not entirely helpless in this dire situation, however. If you know that you must have a procedure, shop around to make sure that you are getting the best price possible. Make sure that you get this quote in writing and have it signed by an appropriate member of the facility’s staff. If you have health insurance, be sure that the facility is in network and that all doctors and associated staff are considered to be in network, as well.



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One response to “Cost Variances for Healthcare Procedures”

  1. Erie says:

    I had the Pelvic Ultrasound last December. It was a part of my yearly “Female Check.” I took about “5minutes” Ultrasound check in the exam-room.
    WE PAID OVER $750!

    Eventhough my husband has Anthem Blue Cross insurance and he pays about $350 every month!! Why does health insurance exist?!
    The cost we paid for the Ultrasound was too much even compared with fair costs in the U.S (Pelvic Ultrasound Total Fair Price in U.S. :$254 Our local Fair Price: $290).
    The prices in Japan and France are about $20 with health insurane. England is FREE. Other develop countires are much cheaper than the U.S. WHY NOT AMERICA?!

    I am feeling all of examinations pricing in the ALL OF AMERICAN hospitals are SCAM.
    I wrote the Healthcare Fraud report to the Anthem Bluecross and got no response.
    Anthem was founded by AHA and I wonder they are in cahoots.
    (AHA’s LOBBYING ranks: 4 of 4,070, Over 1/3 AHA lobbyists in 2013-14 have previously held government jobs)

    HealthCare is a matter of life and death for all Humans.
    Can they use the high cost of healthcare as an excuse for their greed?
    Do they want to KILL people off with such high health-care pricing (compared to other countries around the world), except RICH Americans?

    We can’t afford to take important examinations for many things. Do they know it? Do they have human morals?
    They DESTROY people’s lives in America.