The Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Blog

Why the Variation in Medical Testing Costs?

Posted by Lindsey Gray on December 16, 2014

The NY Times ran a front-page story this morning on the wide discrepancies in the costs of medical testing.  The author cited the example of a retired math professor who had two echocardiograms performed at two different locations.  One test cost $1,400 and the other $5,500.  It was the same test so why the discrepancy in cost?

The Times notes, "Testing has become to the United States’ medical system what liquor is to the hospitality industry: a profit center with large and often arbitrary markups. From a medical perspective, blood work, tests and scans are tools to help physicians diagnose and monitor disease. But from a business perspective, they are opportunities to bring in revenue — especially because the equipment to perform them has generally become far cheaper, smaller and more highly mechanized in the past two decades."

The prices are not regulated in any fashion other than the profit margins of the institutions providing the medical tests.  Such discrepancies lead patients to lose confidence in an already precarious medical system.

Peter Heed

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