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Vast differences in prices for knee, hip surgeries

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A study  by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association shows gigantic price variations  across America for  the same kinds of knee and hip surgeries.

Will this new transparency lead to more equal and reasonable costs? We’d guess that since most insured patients are now being called upon to pay more of their medical costs as part of high-deductible policies, that there will indeed be price pressure — downward.


Erica Mobley, director of communications at the Leapfrog Group, an employer-backed organization that promotes healthcare quality, told Modern Healthcare that quality and safety measures have to be released in conjunction with price information.

”’Displaying cost information is great,’ Mobley said. ‘But it really is important that people and organizations who display this information think more than just cost.’ …”Blue Cross does rate higher quality providers for a handful of procedures, including knee and hip replacements,” Modern Healthcare noted.

Fine, still, indications are that patients will be most interested in cost of these common but very expensive procedures. Orthopedic surgeons may see their revenues fall substantially as a result of the new transparency, which  lets payers of all kinds finally  be able to do real comparison-shopping.

More and more patients will be traveling to the least expensive places for surgery. That means  that teaching hospitals  in some big cities may take a big hit in the next few years as the pricing gaps become vividly apparent.

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