Affordable Health Care is Just a Road Trip Away

People travel to visit family and attend business meetings, so why not travel for medical care?

A report by the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) compares the differing prices for 242 of the most common medical procedures from state-to-state with the national average. Three of the largest insurance companies, Aetna, Humana, and UnitedHealthCare, shared their payment data and claims for analyzation. All this data is of little use to patients who don’t find out the total price until the bill arrives.

The HCCI report is not very transparent since many more patients are paying out of pocket due to high deductible health plans and cost-sharing groups. HCCI could not release physician or hospital-specific prices for cash-paying patients. Massachusetts has a health cost transparency law, where detailed price estimates must be provided within 48 hours. New Hampshire, California, Minnesota, and New Jersey all require some level of transparency.

A knee replacement in Tucson, AZ is $21,976, while 871 miles away in Sacramento, CA it is $38,000 more. Should someone choose not to make the long haul from Sacramento, driving south on I-5 to Riverside, CA they will pay $27,000 less. Arizona’s prices are 82% of the national average, yet just across the border in New Mexico, care is 25% above average. Florida and Maryland were also cheaper overall.  Patients in states such as Maine, Virginia, and North Carolina need to shop elsewhere, as they exceed the national average.

Cash prices vary from state to state as well as city to city – and within cities. The cash price for a back MRI ranges from $475 to $6,221 across the San Francisco metro area. Colonoscopies can cost 50 to 100% more if performed at a hospital vs a surgery center. Knowing the cost range within your own town is good, but it doesn’t help patients select a physician.

Because of excessive regulations, the health care market does not follow traditional economic market rules. States with low Medicare spending often have higher prices in the private market. Patients should shop around for lower prices and negotiate better deals outside of their own area code and be willing to travel farther for non-emergency procedures. When a medical procedure is elective and not an emergency, it is very possible to hit the road and get a great price.

MediBid becomes the travel agent for you. Physicians from across the country can bid on your procedure request. You can compare the prices in all locations from the ease of your own home. Common procedures on MediBid average $497 for an MRI, $659 for a colonoscopy, and $15,530 for a knee replacement.
O’Donnell, Jayne. “Huge health care price differences even within same area, by state.” Politics. USA Today, 27 Apr 2016. Web. 28 Apr 2016.
Kodjak, Alison. “That Surgery Might Cost You A Lot Less In Another Town.” Health Shots. NPR, 27 Apr 2016. Web. 28 Apr 2016.

Leave a Reply


Be sure to include your first and last name.

If you don't have one, no problem! Just leave this blank.