On April 9, 2018, NPR Reporter Alison Kodjak filed a report with NPR’s Morning Edition titled: “Bill Of The Month: A Tale Of 2 CT Scanners — One Richer, One Poorer“.
In this report, Kodjak chronicles the experiences had by a man named Benjamin Hynden as his doctor refers him to an imaging center to get a CAT Scan. The test came back normal, and no treatments were recommended. His bill from his insurer was $268. However, Hynden began to experience stomach pain again three months later and was eventually referred to have another CAT scan, but this time at the ER instead. His bill for the second CAT Scan? $10,174.75.
Why do ERs and Hospitals Charge So Much for the Same Imaging Services?
So what is the reason for this outrageous increase in price for an identical service? Kodjak provides several potential explanations (though it should be noted that none of the staff of the ER agreed to be interviewed when asked). According to an interview with Bunny Ellerin, director of the Health Care and Pharmaceutical Management program at Columbia Business School in New York, people who have insurance are often charged far more than people without in order to help cover the cost of services they provide to uninsured patients. ERs and large regional health networks also generally have higher marketing budgets which can create a sense of authority over referring doctors and patients alike, according to Gerard Anderson, a professor of health policy and management at Johns Hopkins University. Anderson goes on to say that these ultra-high prices are often known as “fairy-tale prices” in the industry because virtually nobody ever pays the full amount.
The Takeaway From This Report
The bottom line of the article is this: Emergency rooms and hospitals will almost always charge much higher prices for CAT scans, ultrasounds, MRIs & mammogram services that may be available in independent imaging centers such as MRI of Woodbridge.