HPCI News: The Odd Math of Medical Tests: One Scan, Two Prices, Both High

To: Members and selected others

The New York Times recently reported on the experience of a retired New Jersey math professor who had two outpatient echocardiograms in the past three years that scanned the valves of his heart. The first, performed by a technician at a community hospital near his home in central New Jersey, lasted less than 30 minutes. The next, at a premier academic medical center in Boston, took three times as long and involved a cardiologist.

And yet, when he saw the charges, the numbers seemed backward: The community hospital had charged about $5,500, while the Harvard teaching hospital had billed $1,400 for the much more elaborate test. “Why would that be?” the man asked. “It really bothered me.”

Below is a listing of echocardiogram prices for some greater Iowa hospitals taken from the New York Times article attachment. The source is Hospital Pricing Specialists.

$2,903 - Monroe County Hospital, Albia

$2,527 - Mercy Hospital, Council Bluffs

$2,527 - Alegent Health Bergan Mercy, Omaha

$2,527 - Creighton University Medical Center, Omaha

$2,410 - Mercy Hospital, Cedar Rapids

$2,328 - Mercy Hospital, Iowa City

$2,324 - Finley Hospital, Dubuque

$2,203 - Methodist Hospital, Des Moines

$1,995 - St. Luke's Hospital, Cedar Rapids

$1,951 - U of I Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City

$1,839 - Genesis Medical Center, Davenport

$1,734 - Grinnell Regional Medical Center, Grinnell

$1,622 - Pella Regional Health Center, Pella

$1,550 - Gundersen Health, LaCrosse, WI

$1,448 - St. Mary's Hospital, Rochester, MN

$1,398 - Mercy Hospital, Des Moines

$1.232 - Mary Greeley Medical Center, Ames

$1,205 - Allen Memorial Hospital, Waterloo

$1,180 - Mercy Medical Center, Sioux City

$977 - Winneshick Hospital, Decorah

$945 - Sanford Health Network, Sioux Falls, SD

$711 - Souixland Surgery Center, Dakota Dunes, SD

$669 - Jennie Edmundson Hospital, Council Bluffs

$253.57 - Portable X-Ray Inc., Des Moines

$249.65 - St. Anthoney Hospital, Carroll

How can this wide variation be? The answer is coming in a new report by the Iowa Employer Group. Stay tuned.

[Click to Read Full Story in New York Times]

[Click to View All Echocardiogram Prices by Individual U.S. Provider]

Paul M. Pietzsch, MPH
HPCI - IHBA Office
4430 Ashley Park Drive
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265
(515) 778-6300

back to the top