Price Tags of Preventive Services Costs Could Vary Up to 755%

Patients could be charged up to 755 percent more for the same preventive service — such as a mammogram, preventive colonoscopy, diabetes test, Pap smear and lipid screening — depending on the type of health coverage, according to a report from healthcare transparency firm Change Healthcare (pdf).

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employers and health plans to provide free access to certain preventive exams for covered individuals. Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, cardiac diseases and cancer, represent roughly 75 percent of U.S. healthcare spending, and the emphasis on preventive screenings looks to reduce the burden of those chronic care costs.

Change Healthcare analysts found wide variation in the costs of the most common preventive and wellness services from its database of in-network providers. Here are the cost findings of the five preventive services studied:

•    Diabetes screenings. Screenings for Type 2 diabetes cost between a low of $51 and a high of $437 — a 755 percent cost difference and the highest difference found.

•    Pap smears. Costs for Pap smears ranged between $131 and $476, a 264 percent price difference.

•    Preventive colonoscopies. Regular, preventive colon screenings are one of the costliest procedures in preventive medicine, as the costs varied between $786 and $1,819.

•    Lipid panels. Lipid panels, which are screenings for cholesterol levels, cost patients anywhere between $117 and $374 for the same test, a variance of 219 percent.

•    Mammography. The average cost of a mammogram in the United States is around $282, but the extremes were $169 and $403.

More Articles on Healthcare Costs:

Study: More Expensive Care May Be Better

GAO: Budget Control Act Did Not Solve Long-Term Healthcare Costs

Geisinger Study Shows Cost-Effectiveness of Patient-Centered Medical Homes

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