Why is it that there are such large differences in costs quoted for the same common procedures in the same city from different doctors? Quality? Apparently not…

Today we read the latest article (here) in what has been a spate of coverage concerning the differing costs quoted by Doctors for the same procedure.

WHATS THE ISSUE? 

The cost of a surgical procedure can differ by more than 650% depending on which doctor you are seeking the treatment from. And we aren’t talking about a price difference due to the surgery being conducted in different countries here – these are differences in price for the identical procedure in the one country.

BUT OTHER SERVICE PROVIDERS LIKE MECHANICS CHARGE DIFFERENT PRICES FOR THE SAME WORK – IT’S ABOUT QUALITY, ISN’T IT?

What really caught our eye was a statement by The Australian Health Minister, Mr Greg Hunt, that echoed several other articles and research pieces that have come across our desk recently. On Friday, when referring to research provided to an Australian Federal Government reform committee, Mr Hunt said “There is no evidence to suggest that fees charged are related to the quality….of the medical services provided”.

Unfortunately, this echoed other public comments made last week in an ongoing discussion about the lack of transparency in pricing for common surgeries. One news outlet stated that in relation to surgeons, higher fees do not necessarily mean better outcomes or quality.

IS THIS A SINGLE COUNTRY ISSUE?

No. In Dallas, Texas, prices for a knee replacement vary from $16,772 to $61,584. While an average cost for a typical hip or knee replacement in the US is around $30,000 you can pay $69,000 for a knee replacement in New York City and nearly $74,000 for a hip replacement in Boston. In the UK you can get a knee replacement for as little as £8,750 ($11,757) in Sussex and as much as £15,410 ($20,703) in London.  By the way, in Singapore a knee replacement costs approximately $10,000.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
  • Costs for the same procedure can vary greatly within your country.
  • A second opinion is your right as a consumer – particularly when it involves something as important and expensive as your health. Never be afraid to shop around and get a second opinion or quote.
  • If you have private health insurance always ask your insurer if they have a list of doctors, clinics or hospitals with which they have a cost arrangement.
  • While quality of care and cost are not usually linked, good healthcare starts with a quality relationship. If you are satisfied with your research on the doctor and you have started to build a good relationship with that doctor during your first consultation, then that is a great foundation for the delivery of quality healthcare.

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