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PriceCheck Project Helps Make Health Care Costs More Transparent

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Ever try to figure out what things cost in health care? There’s a new public radio project here to help.

People and communities across California are joining hands to create a crowdsourced database of health care prices, with the help of two big California public radio stations and a New York journalism startup.

KQED public radio in San Francisco, KPCC/Southern California Public Radio in Los Angeles, and New York startup clearhealthcosts.com came up with the groundbreaking idea to make a pricing database so individuals wouldn’t have to wonder what things cost in health care.

The project, called #PriceCheck, launched recently at this KQED page and this KPCC page.

How Does it Work?

People who want to learn more can go to the launch pages for KQED or KPCC. The pages links to a widget that lets people share prices and search for costs of different health care procedures, medications and more.

Right now, the project has data from a pricing survey of California done by the journalists at clearhealthcosts.com, and also shared data from our communities.

The response from our communities was immediate:

  • “This is a wonderful project!”
  • “First, thank you for doing this!! Something I have wanted for years.”
  • “I love what your organization is trying to do.”
  • “This was essentially a charge of $1,264.00 to receive a prescription.”
  • “Transparency is desperately needed.”

The partners started out by focusing on mammograms in California, with the intent to expand. Dozens of Californians have contributed prices to the database.

The costs charged for mammograms range from $90 to $1,200. The prices paid by insurers for mammograms range from $134 to $1,200.

The comments by contributors are remarkable. They chose not to confine themselves to mammogram prices, and we celebrate that. Below are some comments we received from our contributors:

  • “Without Obamacare, I would not have health insurance.”
  • “Discount was 25.37. I have no idea what this charge is for and how it's different from Mammogram screening. This is the 2nd of 4 charges for my Mammogram.”
  • “Each August I have a mammogram. Each September I get a refusal to pay from Anthem Blue Cross saying they need additional information. Then I call Blue Cross and provide the information they need. Then each January I finally pay the $5 that is not covered by insurance. For the life of me I cannot see why every year we need to go through this dance! If I did not have a family history of breast cancer I might give up.”
  • “This was a 5 minute visit, no tests were order or done, doctor was a bit curt and rude, charge seems excessive.”
  • “Insurance denied removal of lap-band. Vanderbilt wanted to gouge/charge $25,000 for the same procedure. TRANSPARANCY IS DESPERATELY NEEDED.”
  • “The emergency department removed five small stitches from my daughters shin and gave her a prescription for antibiotics. We would have removed the stitches ourselves, but they were infected and sore and she needed the antibiotics which they would not prescribe over the phone. This was essentially a charge of $1,264.00 to receive a prescription.”

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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