Feb. 12—A “secret shopper” study revealed many hospitals were unable to provide a price estimate for hip replacement surgery, suggesting there is a long way to go to improve pricing transparency efforts. The study, conducted by researchers with University of Iowa Health Care and Iowa City VA Medical Center, was published online in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The cost quoted from hospitals able to provide an estimate ranged from $11,100 to $125,798—a more than tenfold difference. The researchers were unable to obtain complete cost estimates from 40 percent of the top-ranked hospitals included in the study (n = 20) and 37 percent of the hospitals that were not top-ranked (n = 102).
Two hospitals from each state and the District of Columbia that performed total hip replacements were randomly selected, as well as the 20 US News and World Report top-ranked orthopedic hospitals. Each hospital was contacted up to five times and requested for pricing for the procedure on behalf of a fictitious 62-year old grandmother who did not have health insurance but was able to pay for the procedure out-of-pocket.
“Over the last 10 years, spurred by increasing healthcare costs and higher consumer exposure to those costs, the demand for greater transparency has intensified,” says HFMA President and CEO Joseph J. Fifer, FHFMA, CPA. “HFMA has pushed for a more rational, transparent pricing system, first through its Patient Friendly Billing project and now through its Value Project. The industry is starting to move in this direction, and it is clearly the right thing to do.”
Publication Date: Tuesday, February 12, 2013