The high cost of health care is one problem. But a separate and more basic problem is our health care system's lack of price transparency. It is hard for the average person in need of health care to know how much that health care will cost. It is hard to comparison shop for medical procedures. The system is opaque. For the non-expert—that is, for most of us—health care prices are little more than a nasty and unhelpful surprise.
We'd like to offer you one small step towards health care price transparency. Below, you will find a graph showing the average cost of 19 different common procedures in each of six large markets across the nation: DC, New York, Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Each graph shows how big the variations are on average cost of that procedure in different markets. The price data in these charts was assembled for us by HealthSparq, a company that provides consumers with cost information and reviews that they can use to intelligently shop for health care. Each regional price listed is based on roughly 1,000 data points. The data is about three years old, making it slightly dated but still useful for comparison purposes.
Click on the various procedures listed under the chart. You will see that the cost of some procedures can vary by more than 400% depending on what city you're in.
Perhaps our health care system could use some standardization.