The hidden health care price tag: how much are you overpaying for procedures?

October 2, 2023

We all have routine screenings we need to schedule – mammograms, colonoscopies, etc. But did you know where you have the screening done can make a difference in what you’ll pay? Turns out, you’ll pay 60% more in some locations!

According to the study by a subsidiary of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, in 2022, the cost for a routine colonoscopy screening was, on average, $1,124 in hospital outpatient departments, but just $925 in ambulatory surgery centers. If there were abnormal symptoms, the prices jumped to $1,646 and $1,040 respectively.

But the price disparities are not only for colonoscopies. Mammography costs were found to be 32% higher in hospitals compared to doctors’ offices, while cataract surgery expenses in outpatient departments were a staggering 56% higher than in ambulatory surgery centers. Additionally, the costs weren’t only higher in hospital settings, but they also tended to rise faster over time.

While this study may not represent every procedure, it does offer some insight into some of the debates in Congress this year. States have been implementing new laws that regulate facility fees, and Congress is considering bills that would do the same.

Have you paid more for a procedure at a hospital than at an ambulatory site? Share your story with us.