One Hospital May Charge 50 Times More Than Another For The Same Service

When something goes wrong with your health, the price of getting treatment is an afterthought.

But if it isn’t an emergency situation, a little forethought could save you money.

A new study from the personal finance site NerdWallet Health found that individual American hospitals price services differently — and one may charge over 50 times more than another.

NerdWallet calculated that among the 100 services most often administered by Medicare, there’s an average of 25 times the difference among the lowest and highest charges, and they can differ by as much as 50.

One of the variables that affects this price is where the hospital is located: The highest prices can be found in California and New Jersey hospitals, and the lowest in the Midwest and South.

Of course, patients don’t always know the costs ahead of time. A NerdWallet-commissioned Harris Poll of more than 2,000 Americans found that 73% of those surveyed would feel better able to make good health decisions if they had the price of their medical care before undergoing it.

While medical prices aren’t the most transparent, there are resources available to get an idea of what your treatment or procedure might cost. For instance, the website OpsCost distills pre- and post-insurance costs compiled by the Centres for Medicare and Medicare Services into a simple tool. Or “you could also just Google ‘What is the cost of an MRI in my area,'” NerdWallet Health General Manager Christina LaMontagne told Next Avenue.

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