Only 16 percent of U.S. hospitals were able to say how much a hip operation would cost a potential patient when asked, and those that answered quoted prices that differed by more than $100,000, a study found.
As more Americans are asked to foot a bigger portion of their health-care bills, being able to comparison shop is essential, said Peter Cram, the study’s author. The research, reported yesterday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, shows the obstacles patients face in trying to lower their medical costs.
“Hospitals, they aren’t used to this request,” said Cram, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City, in a Feb. 8 telephone interview. “Our finding should inspire people to the fact that you should ask about prices even if you have insurance. People should demand more.”