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Price for hip replacement highly variable, hard to obtain
Date:2/11/2013

A "secret shopper" study conducted by researchers with University of Iowa Health Care and Iowa City VA Medical Center reveals the difficulty consumers face when attempting to obtain prices for a common surgical procedure.

The study found that 40 percent of top-ranked and 36 percent of non-top-ranked hospitals were unable to provide a price estimate for a total hip replacement procedure. Moreover, among the hospitals that could provide an estimate, the cost quoted for the procedure ranged from $11,100 to $125,798 a more than ten-fold difference.

While data on hospital quality is now widely available from public and private sector sources, the UI study suggests that pricing data is much harder to obtain. The study suggests that calls for greater transparency in pricing have not had a big effect.

"There have been many initiatives to increase pricing transparency, including state and federal laws, and still many hospitals are unable to provide price information for a common procedure," says Jaime Rosenthal, lead author on the study, which was published online Feb. 7 in JAMA Internal Medicine, a JAMA Network publication. "Also, the variation in pricing was striking, as we tried to give each hospital identical information in terms of what the procedure would require."

Rosenthal and her colleagues Xin Lu and Peter Cram, M.D., randomly selected two hospitals from each state and the District of Columbia that performed total hip replacements as well as the 20 top-ranked orthopedic hospitals according to US News and World Report. Calling on behalf of a hypothetical patient, Rosenthal requested the lowest "complete" price (hospital plus physician fees) for an elective total hip replacement. The fictitious patient, a 62-year old grandmother, did not have health insurance but was able to pay for the procedure out-of-pocket. When a hospital could provide the hospital fee only, the researchers contacted a hospital-affiliated orthope
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Contact: Jennifer Brown
jennifer-l-brown@uiowa.edu
319-356-7124
University of Iowa Health Care
Source:Eurekalert

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