By Genevra Pittman
NEW YORK | Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:25pm EST
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Many hospitals are hard-pressed to tell people needing a hip replacement how much their procedure is likely to cost, according to a new study.
Even when they can cite prices, going rates for the procedure may vary from hospital to hospital by a factor of 10, researchers found.
"It was very frustrating," said Jaime Rosenthal, a student at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who led the new research.
"You got transferred to all these different people. You had to leave messages, call back."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 327,000 Americans had a hip replaced in 2009.
The surgery is especially common among the elderly, who are covered by Medicare. Still, about half of all hip replacements in the U.S. are done on people younger than 65 – some of whom may not have private insurance.