Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Comparing Health Care Cost Help Patients And Competitors

I admit, I don’t know everything, so I’m going to pose a “what if” scenario to highlight a possible future problem in health care cost shopping.

An Australian article in the Kennebec Journal pointed out a how health care information might drive down costs.

“Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maine unveiled…Anthem Care Comparison,
an online program that allows members to find the typical costs for 40 different medical procedures (breaking out costs for hospital, physician, anesthesia and post-procedure care) at hospitals all over the state. You can sort the tables for geography, procedure, minimum and maximum typical price and the annual number of times that procedure is performed at the hospital.”

“Want to know how much a knee replacement might cost? You'd pay a low of $13,822 at St. Mary's in Lewiston to a high of $46,992 at Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta.”

You can also comparison shop at the governments web site www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov. The problem is this.

If consumer can compare prices, hospitals and doctors can do the same. As with all other major services, prices average out over time. Health care services will see a rise in prices knowing that people have been willing to pay more at other hospitals and with other doctors. Sure higher prices my come down a little, but the wide differences will eventually narrow, settling in at one average escalating price.

Think about it, needing a cataract removed, hip replacement, a cancerous mole removed or treatment for a viral borne illness is not something you can put off for very long without being a danger to society, incapacitated or dead. Plasma television, video game or lawn ornaments are all items you can live without (kinda). We’re all kind of over a barrel when it comes to ending the pain.

Again, it’s a doom and gloom “what if scenario” I think we should all consider possible, in this mean old ugly world.

Is this what our top notch health care system has come to?

Hunger often goes hand-in-hand with poor health. That is why the Houston Food Bank is teaming up with Baylor College of Medicine and St. Luke's Episcopal Health Charities to deliver medical care along with nutritional foods to low-income neighborhoods in and around Houston.-Houston Chronicle

Medical missionaries in U.S. cities, just like those in developing countries, should make us all feel so God fearing proud.

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