Oakland’s Highland Hospital lists its price for a single chest X-ray at $131, while over the Bay at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, they say it’ll set you back $2,618.
An aspirin tablet? Highland wants $7 for that, but it’s $1.02 at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and just 30 cents at Walnut Creek’s John Muir Medical Center. If that seems like a bargain, consider that Rite Aid sells a bottle with 100 of those same pills for $5.49, less than 5 and a half cents each. UCSF suggests they don’t charge for an aspirin pill at all.
Hoping to empower consumers who are shouldering more and more of their health care costs each year, the federal government this year is requiring hospitals across the country to post their standard price lists on their websites.Hospitals must now post their prices online: $7 for 5-cent aspirin?
You can explain away these deltas, but you cannot rationally defend them. Our health care system is a knot of confusion and the lowest hanging fruit is transparency. We don’t need to walk away from the market economy for health care; we need to embrace it.
Best reporting I’ve run across on health insurance: Someone Else’s Money.