Dear Cone Health, please tell the truth

"...The prices of many health-care services in the U.S. are extremely difficult for patients to obtain in advance.

For example, when the Government Accountability Office anonymously phoned doctors’ offices to inquire about the price of diabetes screening, most could not provide estimates of the associated lab fees.

And when GAO investigators called hospitals to find out the price of a knee replacement, they got similarly uninformative responses.

One of the more responsive hospitals said it would take a week to obtain an estimate; most of the rest seemed even less helpful.

When prices are revealed, typically after the fact, they often vary widely -- depending on both the provider and the patient’s insurance plan.

In 2009, for instance, the median charge for coronary-artery bypass surgery in Los Angeles County ranged from about $130,000 at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center to about $250,000 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and more than $300,000 at Garfield Medical Center, according to a California government website.

...most studies have found little, if any, connection between price and quality.

...when people bear more of the financial risk associated with their own health care, they are likely to become more responsive to information about price and quality.

...the coming years will see dramatic fights over health care.

...Providing more price transparency...should be part of the path forward."

Peter Orszag

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