For years, the price of healthcare has been a huge debate in the United States. However, the discussion was never over the actual delivery of the medical attention, but rather the rate of insurances, coverage plans, etc. But now, thanks to an online database provided by North Carolina’s division of Blue Cross, patients, for the first time, have access to the actual price of procedures from one location of administration to the next, a tool that many believe will revolutionize the healthcare industry, Forbes reports.
Little did doctors or patients know, but it turns out that there are often times stark differences between the costs of the same medical procedure done at different places. Most prominently, the database reveals that medical operations done at outpatient facilities are far cheaper than the same operations done at inpatient facilities and hospitals. For instance, a Kaiser Health News article reports that an angioplasty performed by radiologist Stephen Loehr at his outpatient facility costs $2,494, while the same procedure at the inpatient Duke University Hospital charges $12,123. Loehr explains that the striking difference in price comes from the inpatient nature of hospitals, likening a hospital bed to “a $1,000 hotel room.”
Inpatient care facilities are far more pricey than their outpatient alternatives, however many patients require the added care and surveillance offered by overnight accommodations. But what the Blue Cross online database has done is given patients their first-ever opportunity to compare the costs of procedures between virtually identical facilities. Now, patients can choose their doctors based on costs, and not merely by referrals or location.
The Blue Cross database has also come in handy for doctors and physicians. To date, doctors aren’t permitted to know the price of specific procedures that they perform; such information is reserved for the insurance agency, and at the end of the operation, for the patient, according to NewsObserver. Similarly, there has never been an arena in which doctors can compare the costs of their services with their competitors. At any rate, the Blue Cross database may have changed all of that. Now, doctors can get online and look up the price of procedures between doctors and hospitals just like a patient can. The publication of these prices could evoke a major change in the American healthcare system, as doctors can now see their prices and start to study more carefully the business side of their profession.