Share Your Bill, Make Health Costs Transparent in California


Suppose you’re shopping for a new refrigerator or a new car, and you want to get the best price. Within a matter of minutes of searching online, you would have a pretty good idea of the price range for the product you want.

But in health care? Forget it.

That’s why KQED, KPCC in Los Angeles and ClearHealthCosts.com have teamed up — to shine light on health care costs. In June, we launched PriceCheck a community-created guide to health costs. Since no database yet exists where consumers can easily look up costs, we’re commencing the work of creating one.

But we need your help. Check out the form below and share what you paid. If you have insurance, you’ll need your explanation of benefits.

We’re especially interested in prices charged and paid for three common tests: mammograms, lower-back MRIs and chest x-rays. But our form is designed to accept many kinds of medical tests and procedures. When you’re done sharing what you paid (or searching our database) check out all of our PriceCheck coverage.

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  • yolo

    Suggestion to create a easier (shorter) URL or redirect, such as kqed.org/pricecheck

    • http://blogs.kqed.org/stateofhealth Lisa Aliferis, KQED

      Thank you! Actually, that is a redirect we already are using. So please feel free to share that URL if easier.

  • Cathy

    Cost on bill is only loosely to actual cost of item. Hospitals add to charges to make up for unreimbursed costs elsewhere. Decades ago I worked in university hospital billing department and $3 charge for aspirin tablet wasn’t for the aspirin – it was for pharmacist and pharmacy to stock the aspirin, custodian to clean pharmacy, nurse to dispense, unreimbursed charity care, etc. And anyway, while seeking “transparency” isn’t necessarily a bad idea, costs aren’t ever going to be contained as long as usual patient has no significant financial skin in the game. We are health care providers and were recently consulted by our son as to the wisdom of a raft of tests recommended by presumably well-trained internist in UCLA system. Some of the tests recommended simply weren’t necessary, but our son is a very unusual consumer of health care in that he wanted to save every possible deductible penny and he had someone knowledgeable to ask. Most patients would just go to the lab without asking questions after seeing the doctor. By making insurance more accessible without creating incentives for patients choose health care services wisely, ACA guarantees that everyone’s premiums (inside exchanges, outside exchanges, taxpayer-funded) will eventually skyrocket.

    • guzzi_jones

      Cathy what is interesting now is that since insurance companies are now offering insurance coverage with HIGH premiums the patient DOES have significant skin in the game. :) They are effectively shooting themselves in the foot and allowing apps like this to come to life.

  • JuniorWoodpecker

    This site doesn’t even show prices for cataract removal which is once of the most common of all procedures. The site’s a worthless waste of time!

  • Susie Kalashain

    website needs help. I couldn’t scroll down past 96150 to even get to mammograms!

    • http://blogs.kqed.org/stateofhealth Lisa Aliferis, KQED

      Hi There — trying to help: Did you try just typing in “mammogram” where there is a space for “procedure”? Or did you only look for procedure code?

  • http://alltop.com/ Will Mayall

    First, it is often tough to find the procedure codes even though that’s the only way to be sure you are entering the correct procedure. Then, your db does appear to have all the codes. The second procedure I entered has code 73030 and was not found. There must be a better way to do this…

  • Bobin MB

    From Rapid City South Dakota. I think your effort to
    establish a list of prices for various medical procedures is great. A family
    member of mine, uninsured, went to the hospital ER with a stomach problem
    causing her to vomit. Three hours, an abdominal ultrascan and some blood tests later
    she left with a bill of $2200. I asked for an itemized listing of all
    procedures/codes and compared them item by item to what Medicare would allow.
    It was $550. The hospital “chargemaster” billing was 400% over Medicare. This is
    criminal. The uninsured can be driven into bankruptcy by unreasonable hospital
    charges. I wish you could get South Dakota to establish an organization such as
    yours. Keep up the good work. Information can be power and used to fight overbilling.

  • John

    My friend is doing this same thing, check out his startup:
    http://comparedcare.com

    • http://clearhealthcosts.com/ Jeanne (clearhealthcosts)

      Hi, we’re the East Coast partner in #PriceCheck, clearhealthcosts.com. Is this the same Ethan who emailed me as we launched #PriceCheck, saying he was doing a “case study” of “research on the health industry” and asking me to submit all our data to him? He described himself to us as an academic, not as a person running a startup.

    • http://clearhealthcosts.com/ Jeanne (clearhealthcosts)

      In case this jogs Ethan’s memory, here’s the email I got:
      Ethan Steininger Jun 14
      to info

      Hello,
      I am doing research on the healthcare cost industry.
      My team is conducting case studies for the effect of healthcare awareness among local groups.
      Would you be able to submit some of your data so we can eliminate various variables?

      • John

        Hi Jeanne,
        That is the CEO’s email, I will address him regarding this.
        You should not post his university email on a public forum though Jeanne, that is clearly against the terms and conditions.
        Thanks

        • http://clearhealthcosts.com/ Jeanne (clearhealthcosts)

          sorry, i thought it would automatically delete. i fixed it!

  • DJango cfMC FEROX

    I cant even find your stupid website lolz. Nice job?

  • kimoconnor

    Wow, simple TSH blood test (all self pay) runs from low of $11.55 to high of $407! Mind blowing.

    • http://blogs.kqed.org/stateofhealth Lisa Aliferis, KQED

      Yes, the price variation amazes us, too! It clearly pays to shop around.

  • Name

    I wanted to share my bill. Stanford just charged me $22,000 for a head/neck/brain MRI. The also charged over $1000 for an EKG. My ER bill was unbelievable. I spoke with billing and they stated they reviewed the costs and it was correct. No wonder health care is so unaffordable. I’m glad I didn’t need to be hospitalized.

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