Health Care

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KQED Launches ‘PriceCheck’ to Make Health Costs Transparent

(Photo: Getty Images)

(Photo: Getty Images)

Update June 30: Early PriceCheck data show Bay Area mammogram prices range from $125 to $801

Original Post:

Say you’re shopping for a new computer or a new car, and you want to get the best price. Within a matter of minutes on Google, you would have a pretty good idea of the price range for the product you want.

But in health care? Forget it.

Shining light on a system where the costs of the same procedure might range from $0 to $1,100. That’s just one example.

It’s well known to health policy types, but less so to consumers, that health care prices are utterly lacking in transparency and wildly variable.

If you’ve ever looked at a bill for a health care procedure — and been astounded by the numbers you see — or thought that you would like to find the best price on an elective procedure – and been astounded that there’s no easy way to compare prices — KQED is launching a new project for you.

Today we bring you “Price Check,” 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.

This summer and into the fall, we’re turning to you, our community, to share — anonymously — what you have paid for some common procedures. We’re starting with mammograms. (More on “why mammograms?” in a moment.) Continue reading

TEDMED (Virtually) Comes to California

Cookie Monster, now a fruit advocate, will be discussing the importance of eating in moderation at TEDMED. (Photo: PBS)

Cookie Monster, now a fruit advocate, will be discussing the importance of eating in moderation at TEDMED. (Photo: PBS)

What if R2D2 were your doctor? Do proteins have their own social network? And, while we’re at it, can we reshape human perceptions without saying a word?

Those are just a few of the questions that are being addressed this week at the annual TEDMED conference, an off-shoot of the popular TED talks.

The talks, starting today and running through Friday, April 13, explore the future of health and medicine. TEDMED participants range from singer Jill Sobule (best known for her 1995 single “Supermodel“) and our beloved Cookie Monster (yeah, you read that correctly), to the Director of the National Institute of Health Francis Collins and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

Continue reading