Varying Prices for Lab Tests are Absurd

by Adrienne Snavely

The health needs of a community vary by market. If you cannot find what you need or afford it, you should have the opportunity and information to go elsewhere without being penalized.

A patient in Chicago went for a routine blood test, at their doctor’s request, at a hospital. Blood testThey received a bill of nearly $700, plus $119 for the office visit. Since the lab was hospital-based, insurance did not cover it, and the patient ended up paying just under $500. The patient was unaware other options were available. For example, a lab company called Theranos operates 22 locations in California and Arizona. Its website lists transparent lab prices and the potential savings are significant. Even the uninsured can get a better deal paying out of pocket, since Theranos gives the same price for all, regardless of insurance. Another less expensive option would be to have your primary care physician draw the labs in the office, rather than a hospital.

A blood cholesterol test in California can range from $10 to $10,000, 1000 times that. A basic metabolic panel can range from $35 to over $7000. A complete blood cell count and thyroid hormone assay also vary widely. There is no rational way to explain these price differences. A majority of patients pay discounted rates as negotiated by their insurance plans. Uninsured patients and those looking for care outside of their network will be charged the full amount. Costs are also shifted onto those with insurance to cover those on Medicaid.

How long will patients continue to put up with such outrageous price difference? You can save hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars by simply using a different site of care. As more facilities and physicians provide price transparency, hospitals and other health systems must develop a plan to respond to the competition. The current health care system has an irrational way of charging and payment. It can be explained no other way. Patients can, however, play a role in keeping health care costs down by being “smart shoppers”, getting procedure prices in advance and comparison shopping.

We’d like to do our part to help lower your medical costs by letting you know about these specials:
MediBid’s Lab Partner offers low-cost, high-quality laboratory tests at a fraction of the cost. Due to volume based pricing, we are able to offer these savings to you at up to 80% off published retail prices. Order the following tests today before this deal comes to an end!

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Lipid Profile $19 – This is a group of simple blood tests that reveal important information about the types, amount and distribution of the various types of fats (lipids) in the bloodstream.

PSA $29 – The prostate specific antigen (PSA), is a protein made only in the prostate gland. PSA is produced by normal, abnormal and cancerous prostatic tissue. The PSA blood test is an accurate measure of this amount. The theory is that cancer causes more of the protein to be made and leaked into the blood than normal prostate tissue, so PSA is now used for assisting in the diagnosis and monitoring of prostatic carcinoma.

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CardioPlus + PSA $49 – Tests Included: Lipids, Glucose, Chemistries, and PSA

NMR $99 – The NMR LipoProfile® test is an advanced cardiovascular diagnostic test that uses nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to measure the actual number of atherogenic LDL particles that build up in the arteries causing heart disease. This test includes: Insulin resistance calculation, lipoprotein particle number, lipoprotein subfractions, and a standard lipid panel (total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides).
Dunn, Lindsey. “Maybe healthcare shouldn’t be local.” The Daily Beat Blog. Becker’s Hospital Review, 4 Sep 2014. Web. 14 Sep 2014.
Rabin, Roni Caryn. “Wide Variation In Hospital Charges For Blood Tests Called ‘Irrational’”. Capsules. Kaiser Health News, 15 Aug 2014. Web. 14 Sep 2014.

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