Newsroom United Healthcare: Transparency Matters: Gaining Insight into Medical Quality and Costs

2 min
April 18, 2018

April 17, 2018

Imagine going into your favorite grocery store to do your weekly shopping, but there are no prices on any of the products. At checkout, the cashier says, “Don’t worry about paying. We’ll send you a bill.” Several weeks later, you’re shocked to get a bill for thousands of dollars more than you expected.

You wouldn’t stand for not knowing the prices of your groceries, clothes, gas or other items before you buy them. So why do we accept not knowing how much medical procedures cost before we have them?

Having insight, or transparency, into the quality and cost of medical care can be empowering. You might be amazed by how much costs for the same medical service can vary, locally and nationally.

In New York City, the cost of a knee MRI ranges from $179 to $4,945, while the costs for the same procedure in Miami range from $142 to $4,406. If you pay a 20 percent coinsurance, your costs could be anywhere from $29 to $989, so it pays to comparison shop for care.

The need for transparency becomes even clearer when facing high-cost procedures like a lumbar fusion. Costs range from $5,520 to $95,955 in Miami and from $26,004 to $265,908 in San Francisco. A 20 percent coinsurance payment for a lumbar fusion in San Francisco can range from $5,201 to $83,182.

What’s more, a study by Families U.S.A. concluded that higher-priced care providers do not necessarily deliver higher-quality care or better health outcomes.