How much do medical procedures really cost?

November 15, 2011


Photo: Courtesy of Grant Cochrane

As healthcare costs continue to increase, patients should be more aware of the procedures and the costs that linger. Every procedure and visit costs money. If a person has health insurance, it costs the patient through a co-pay and deductible if they have one. The remainder of the bill then goes to the insurance company and ultimately to employers.

But not all bills are created equal. Did you know that the same procedure can cost different amounts at different locations? This is known as cost variation.

One example of how cost variation works in New Hampshire is to look at mammograms. Mammograms are a very common procedure that can be performed at lots of locations. The cost range for a mammogram in NH is from $185 to $709. That's over a $500 difference for the same test!

But why does this cost difference matter? It matters because ultimately companies and the individuals who are insured pay for this. Companies may need to budget more  to pay for their health care expenses, and then spending less in other places, like salary for example.

Where can you find this information? For USNH employees, and all other individuals living in NH, the NH Health Cost websites provides cost information by procedure and location. So the next time your provider asks you to have a procedure, check out how much it really costs!

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