kilativ (kilativ) wrote,

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George Hahn had two echocardiograms, a year apart. His insurance plan remained the same and both tests, scans of his heart, were done at the same hospital.
The first cost him $170, the second $3,101.
“In my wildest dreams I would never have thought this would be allowed,” said the 61-year-old Malvern resident.
So, how did this beyond-wildest-dreams scenario become reality?
The answer is infuriating, seemingly arbitrary, and all too common in our health system.
Hahn’s first scan was done by an independent cardiology group with offices at Paoli Hospital with whom Hahn’s insurer, Independence Blue Cross, negotiated a heavy discount. The second scan was performed by the hospital, also in the insurer’s network, but for a far heftier fee that wasn’t slashed nearly as much by insurer bargaining.
Prices for even basic medical procedures vary widely from one provider to the next, in part because of the complex — and largely proprietary — negotiations between insurers and providers. Hospitals are notorious for charging many times more than independent doctors, and insurers negotiate deep discounts with certain providers to steer members toward lower cost options.
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