Report highlights significant variation in healthcare costs

healthcareIn Virginia healthcare costs vary dramatically depending on where you go.  According to the most recent figures reported by Virginia Health Information (VHI), a colonoscopy in 2016 averages as little as $1,075 in Southwest Virginia physician offices and as much as $2,940 in Central Virginia hospitals.

The many pricing differences can be explored within VHI’s Healthcare Pricing Transparency Report, available free to the public at http://vhi.org/healthcarepricing/.  The report contains over 32 services including tests, surgeries, doctor visits and emergency room care.  The report clearly describes each service and includes trusted links for more information about the potential risks and benefits.

With many Virginians paying more of their healthcare expenses, the need for information comparing costs of care by geographic region and care setting has become more important than ever.  High-deductible health plans (HDHP) can have lower premiums.  The downside? In 2018 plans that qualify with the IRS as HDHPs require deductibles of up to $1,350 for an individual and $2,700 for a family before the cost of services may be offset.  As always consumers should make sure they review their health plan information to understand their deductible amounts.

Unlike insurers and employers, those without health insurance have very little information to help to negotiate costs.  On VHI’s website, consumers can gain leverage by using the average amount health insurance companies approve.  “With the release of the 2016 Healthcare Pricing Transparency report, VHI continues to serve as an unbiased resource for consumers trying to navigate the complicated world of healthcare costs.” Kyle Russell, Strategy and Analytics Manager.

Transparency in healthcare prices is a prominent issue across the U.S. with some states taking on the challenge to collect and share this information with the public.  On a national level, the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS) recently wrote that “We are concerned that challenges continue to exist for patients due to insufficient price transparency.”

In a 2017 national report card published by the Altarum Institute, Virginia was just one of six states earning a passing grade in pricing transparency.  “Virginia remains highly regarded for its pricing transparency efforts as consumers seek to make more informed healthcare purchasing decisions.” Michael T. Lundberg, Executive Director.

Virginia Health Information (VHI) is the go to nonprofit organization for healthcare cost and quality information.  VHI publishes reports and consumer guides on health insurance, hospitals, nursing facilities, physicians and more.  Find the latest updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vahealth.

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