You Can Get Prices for Hip Replacements After All

Design: We randomly selected 2 hospitals from each state (plus Washington, DC) that perform THA, as well as the 20 top-ranked orthopedic hospitals according to U.S. News and World Report rankings. We contacted each hospital by telephone between May 2011 and July 2012. Using a standardized script, we requested from each hospital the lowest complete “bundled price” (hospital plus physician fees) for an elective THA that was required by one of the author’s 62-year-old grandmother.

Results: Nine top-ranked hospitals (45%) and 10 non-top-ranked hospitals (10%) were able to provide a complete bundled price (P < .001). We were able to obtain a complete price estimate from an additional 3 top-ranked hospitals (15%) and 54 non–top-ranked hospitals (53%) (P = .002) by contacting the hospital and physician separately. The range of complete prices was wide for both top-ranked ($12,500 -$105,000) and non-top-ranked hospitals ($11,100 – $125,798).

This is from JAMA Internal Medicine.

Comments (14)

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  1. Cornelis Sutton says:

    “The range of complete prices was wide for both top-ranked ($12 500 -$105 000) and non-top-ranked hospitals ($11 100 – $125,798).”

    This does not inspire faith in the value of services when I go to my local hospital. We should migrate to hospitals being forthcoming with their prices like a menu board at a fast food restaurant. That would make shopping for care a lot easier and potentially reduce prices.

  2. Harley says:

    Cornelius, that’s what this is.. an argument for the switch to minute clinics and medical tourism.

  3. Jack says:

    Those bundled prices are certainly not indicative of real prices. Hospitals pull that bait and switch ALL the time. Complication here, administrator error there, and then when you finally receive resolution — it resurfaces a year later.

  4. Scarlet says:

    The huge gap in prices between both “top-ranked ($12,500 -$105,000) and non-top-ranked hospitals ($11,100 – $125,798)” is not very comforting. Not knowing if you will end up paying $12,500 or $105,000, as indicated in the first case, can be a turning point for many people. This is a good start, however, something needs to be done to make the variation in prices a lot smaller. Otherwise, people will never rely on these prices.

  5. CJ says:

    I’m kind of impressed to see that the variation between the cheapest to the most expensive prices in both types of hospitals is not that big. I mean, if you had to choose between getting a serious procedure done at a top-ranked hospital for $12,500 than at a non-top-ranked hospital for a thousand dollars less…would you choose the top-ranked one for safety concerns? I know I would.

  6. Collin says:

    Excellent point CJ. Sometimes people are willing to go through certain procedures at certain institutions just to save some money, not taking into consideration if the amount of money they are saving is really worth being at risk.

  7. Allison Howard says:

    Everyone knows that these prices are very subjective. This is what you are told when you first visit your doctor, but the reality of it is that by the time you receive your final bill you realize they forgot to mention a good amount of other “fees”…or perhaps things that came up here and there during the procedure that were “unexpected”.

  8. Brandford says:

    I just recently heard of a close relative that was getting some legal advice from an attorney, and it reminded me a little bit to this matter. He felt very comfortable with the attorney, since he was very communicative and did not mind my relative to consult with him at anytime. they exchanged emails with the most random and unnecessary questions and concerns…and when my relative receives the bill, he realizes he was being charged for every sec of every min, and even for the air he was breathing while talking to this lawyer…which he wasnt informed at the beginning. In fact, the attorney informed him of his charges, and never mentioned anything about what he was being charged for at the end. It’s the same thing with these hospital charges. They can argue that they are being transparent about their prices, however, as a patient, you will never ever know until you get the horrific bill on the mail. Enough said.

  9. Peterson says:

    Bundled prices are not very reflective actual prices.

  10. Johansen says:

    Regardless, these are not good indicators of what you will end up paying. There’s usually some hidden fees that will come to the surface sooner than later..

  11. John Stuart Mill says:

    The headline is misleading (You can get prices for hip replacements after all)

    This is what JAMA says:

    Conclusions and Relevance We found it difficult to obtain price information for THA and observed wide variation in the prices that were quoted. Many health care providers cannot provide reasonable price estimates. Patients seeking elective THA may find considerable price savings through comparison shopping.

  12. Devon Herrick says:

    The range of complete prices was wide for both top-ranked ($12,500 -$105,000) and non-top-ranked hospitals ($11,100 – $125,798).

    The wide range of prices is outrageous. However, the high outliers are only able to get away with this because patients have little skin the game, do not ask about prices and are not using their own money. Moreover, employers are discouraged from requiring that workers use specific hospitals for procedures. Moreover, hospitals are consolidating to negotiate higher prices with insurers and health plans. In a competitive market – which we sorely lack – these prices would fall.

  13. John Stuart Mill says:

    It appears the commenters don’t read each other’s comments. Has it escaped everyone the headline is misleading? It says you can get prices for hip replacements, when in fact the burden of the JAMA article is just the opposite.

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