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Prices Vary Significantly for Women’s Health Services

Analysis reveals cities with greatest disparities in pricing

Past studies have found irrational pricing practices related to a variety of health care procedures, including MRIs and angioplasties. A new analysis has found that the same practices exist with women’s health services.

The analysis, conducted by benefits consultant Castlight Health, examined pricing in a number of cities and found Dallas to have the greatest variation among the 179 metropolitan markets studied. 

Modern Healthcare reported that women with employer-sponsored health insurance living in Dallas pay from $50 to $1,045 for a mammogram. New York City is close behind. Women pay between $130 and $1,898 for a mammogram in the Big Apple. The price of a mammogram for privately insured women in Los Angeles varies from $86 to $954.

The price of human papillomavirus (HPV) tests varies by at least 10-fold in 47 metropolitan markets. The largest variation is in Philadelphia, where women pay from $32 to $626 for an HPV test. 

 Castlight defined prices as the amount the employer paid and what the employee paid in cost-sharing, such as their copay or deductible. 

“The health care system in America today just does not have transparency,” said Eric Mann, vice president of product marketing at Castlight. “It does not have transparency for price. As or more importantly, it doesn't have transparency for quality.

“There's a huge variation in cost for women's health services,” Mann added. “It has implications for women's health because they don't end up getting the services they need if they can't afford them.”

Prices are more standard for OB-GYN follow-up visits, with employers and employees paying no more than roughly two times the lowest amount. 

Source: Modern Healthcare, October 7, 2015.

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