New Website Allows Coloradans to Compare Medical Procedure Prices

Colorado residents now have a website they can turn to compare actual prices paid for medical procedures at different hospitals, in addition to checking out quality evaluations for how well the procedures were performed.

The site, CO Medical Price Compare, shows there is quite a distinction in prices paid for the same process at different hospitals, and it also represents the first time that the hospitals will be able to compare their costs with others, according to Colorado’s Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC).

For example, a total knee joint replacement can range from $25,000 to $58,000 in Colorado, depending on where you have it done.

“What is unprecedented about the site is we have actual median amounts paid by insurance companies and patients,” CIVHC economist Jonathan Mathieu told Rocky Mountain PBS I-News on Colorado State of Mind. “These are not hospital charges, which often have little to do with the amount actually paid.”

CIVHC economist Jonathan Mathieu Jonathan Mathieu

The site opened with price paid comparisons for four services, including the knee replacement, total hip joint replacement, uncomplicated vaginal birth, and cesarean birth. Nine additional services and ambulatory surgery center prices will be added by the end of the year, and more than 25 additional other services across a variety of facility types will be online next year.

This all goes back to Colorado’s 2008 Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care, which recommended that the state create an “all payer claims database” as one way of containing health care costs. The ensuing legislation was signed by Gov. Bill Ritter.

The site also includes quality information, including professional assessments of each hospital’s merit in performing the named procedure.

“Consumers can go in and shop and compare,” Mathieu said. “Basically, you check your procedure, type in your zip code and hit go, and out comes the price information. Price transparency is very, very important in helping consumers shop for care.”

Other states, including New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts, have well-established costs paid indexes, he said. Quality assessments are a new wrinkle from Colorado.

One thought on “New Website Allows Coloradans to Compare Medical Procedure Prices

  1. In my opinion, this is a poor effort for the time citizens have had to wait, and it would be very interesting if we knew why.

    The author of this article may have had some trouble using the site, because if he was trying to find the range of prices for a knee replacement, he missed how some people get charged as much as $103,000. (Or more? It’s difficult to determine without investing a lot of time/effort which hospital in the state is charging the most for a particular procedure.)

    This site is not user-friendly. And for heavily populated areas with several hospitals, how helpful is it to compare health care prices of by county? Is this just data routinely collected by the state department of health?

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