Shop around, save on healthcare: $22M left on the table in 1 Massachusetts county

If patients in one Massachusetts county hadn't used the most expensive provider for 16 common procedures, nearly $22 million could have been saved in a year, according to new research from the Pioneer Institute, a Boston think tank. 

Researchers with Pioneer Institute used data from the Massachusetts Center for Health Information and Analysis' public website for its study. They looked at how much was spent on 16 shoppable services at providers in the state's Suffolk County whose prices were in the top 20 percent in 2015. The authors calculated how much patients might save if they moved from the most expensive providers to those who charged less.

Here is the annual savings for 16 procedures that patients could have realized if they switched from the most expensive providers to those whose prices fell closer to the middle: 


1. Mammography: $6,680,080
2. Chest X-ray: $347,709
3. Foot X-ray: $134,859
4. CT abdomen + pelvis with contrast: $84,458
5. MRI brain: $5,928,549
6. CT chest with contrast: $81,385


7. Biopsy of large intestine: $196,052
8. Diagnostic examination of large bowel: $1,821,231
9. Biopsy of the esophagus, stomach, and/or upper small intestine: $1,128,010
10. Screening colonoscopy: $1,293,779
11. Biopsy of the esophagus, stomach, and/or upper small intestine with colonoscopy: $880,957

Physical therapy

12. Physical therapy with exercise, 15 minutes: $1,682,260
13. Physical therapy evaluation: $1,080,635
14. Therapy for neuromuscular re-education: $395,246
15. Manual for one or more regions of body, 15 minutes: $60,097
16. Physical therapy exercise, in-person with therapist, 15 minutes: $203,009

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