Colonoscopy costs reveal significant price variances across hospitals

Colonoscopy prices exceed $5,000 at some of the country's most expensive hospitals, while hovering around $1,700 on average at less expensive hospitals, according to a study published Aug. 11 in Health Affairs.

Researchers from Michigan State University in East Lansing and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore used the database compiled by price transparency startup Turquoise Health to see how much colonoscopy prices differed between hospitals.

The research team found that as of July 27, only 1,225 hospitals — about a quarter of general acute care hospitals in the U.S. — disclosed commercial negotiated prices for colonoscopies. 

Among the hospitals that disclosed prices, the top 10 percent had prices of at least $3,677, which is nearly five times the average Medicare reimbursement rate of $793. Among the remaining 90 percent of hospitals that disclosed their prices, the average commercial negotiated price for a colonoscopy ranged between $44 and $3,676.

A colonoscopy cost $27,679 at the highest-price hospital included in the study.

"High service prices result in high out-of-pocket expenditure for commercially insured patients, especially those enrolled in high-deductible health plans, and raise health plan premiums for the beneficiaries," the researchers wrote.

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