Healthcare pricing: ‘Complicated and complex’ says Syringa CEO King

Abner King

Healthcare is one of the most expensive items in our personal closets. Now, you should be able to have somewhat of an idea of what procedures will cost before you have them.

Starting Jan. 1, all U.S. hospitals were required to list their medical service prices on-line.

However, hospitals are warning these dollar amounts may not be exactly what they seem.

Syringa Hospital in Grangeville has a “hospital pricing schedule” under its “patient tools” tab at www.syringahospital.org. Laid out in an Excel spreadsheet and divided into categories (outpatient, radiology, pharmacy, etc.), the list contains 2,382 items.

“The price list provided includes a service description and pricing for facility services available at Syringa Hospital. The final cost to the patient for a medical service is dependent upon the patient’s insurance deductible, coinsurance, copayment and contractual amount,” the site explains. “It is important to note that there can be many variables involved in medical services which may incur additional charges. Following are just a few examples: supplies used for specific procedures, medication dosage and frequency, the length of time spent in a procedure or surgery and recovery, additional testing or unexpected conditions or complications that may occur.”

Syringa CEO Abner King said in the past hospitals have been reluctant to add pricing schedules because pricing is “complicated and complex.”

“It’s not like purchasing groceries – there are many variables,” he explained. He used an example from his own healthcare experience.

“At one time I had an MRI of my head, but when I went in, one of the questions was had I ever had any metal in my head,” he explained. “As a youth I had metal in my eye, so because of that, an x-ray was required prior to the MRI to make sure there was not any metal left, even though it was years later.”

King explained this is just one small way in which the price of an MRI can change from patient to patient.

“I encourage anyone who needs to get an estimate on costs to call and speak to one of our patient financial counselors,” King said. “That’s the best way, on an individual, case-by-case basis, to get an idea of what specific costs will be.”

St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood has its “price transparency” listed under its “patient info” tab at www.smh-cvh.org.

“As a patient, you may be interested in learning more about how much Clearwater Valley Hospital/St. Mary’s Hospital charges for a specific hospital service. We are committed to price transparency and provide a full list of our standard charges for your review. Please keep in mind, the best way to determine how much you will be charged for a service provided at Clearwater Valley Hospital/St. Mary’s Hospital is to request a price estimate. This will take into consideration your insurance coverage and show you what your out-of-pocket expenses will be,” the into to the prices reads.

A link takes the patient to a list of prices that includes 6,209 items.

A quick comparison between the two hospitals shows Syringa lists a vaginal delivery at $1,734 while St. Mary’s lists two prices, $2,197 or $2,576. However, there is not specific notes on what exactly each of these deliveries cover.

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