When Dr. Jeffrey Rice needed to schedule outpatient foot surgery for his son three years ago, he called the recommended facility to find out what it would cost. The estimate was so high — $15,000 to $25,000 — that Rice asked the surgeon for a second option. The cost for the same one-hour procedure at an outpatient surgery center in a slightly more convenient location: $1,500.
Rice’s experience isn’t an anomaly. Costs for identical medical procedures can vary by thousands of dollars from clinic to clinic, city to city and state to state, according to federal data and other sources.
With the next phase of the Affordable Care Act kicking in Oct. 1, when individuals can begin enrolling in state-run health exchanges, debate rages over whether health care reform will do anything to rectify such pricing disparities or help lower costs.
The 2010 law, widely known as Obamacare, is meant to address the availability and cost of health insurance, not necessarily the cost of specific services. Still, supporters believe that because it paves the way for universal health care coverage, the resulting larger pool of insured patients should lower costs in the long run… (Read more and view comments here)