The recent EpiPen outrage got us thinking about the pricing for all kinds of healthcare products and services, from other prescription drugs to hospital visits. In case you think the high price of EpiPen is an anomaly within the US healthcare system, consider some statistics like these:

Researchers at the John Hopkins University of Baltimore have found that many hospitals are charging a shocking 20 times more than the cost of some specialized services like CT scans and anesthesiology. Johns Hopkins Hospital has a charge-to-cost ration of just 1.3, which is among the lowest there is. According to the study, some hospitals charge as much as $2,850 for CT scan while the cost to the hospital can be as little as $100. (LiveScience).

Further proof that not all hospitals are the same: A 2013 New York Times article found:

– A hospital in Livingston, N.J., charged $70,712 on average to implant a pacemaker, while a hospital in nearby Rahway, N.J., charged $101,945.
– In Saint Augustine, Fla., one hospital typically billed nearly $40,000 to remove a gallbladder using minimally invasive surgery, while one in Orange Park, Fla., charged $91,000.
– In one hospital in Dallas, the average bill for treating simple pneumonia was $14,610, while in another they charged over $38,000.

 

This photo recently caused outrage on the internet after a mother posted a photo of her hospital bill after giving birth to a child. The cost of her holding her newborn son? $40

hospital bill

Of course, for most Americans a hospital stay or procedure is largely covered by insurance while the cost of prescriptions drugs like the EpiPen can take a big bite out of a family’s budget. With that in mind, here are some tips on how you can help reduce the cost of your family’s prescription drug needs:

  1. Ask your doctor if there’s a generic version of the drug. Generic versions sometimes cost 85% less than brand-names. If there aren’t any generic versions available, ask if there are other therapeutic alternatives that could give the same effect — they are in the same class, but vary chemically.
  2. Do your research: Companies like Cigna, Humana, and United Healthcare have apps that show how much meds cost under your plan.
  3. Order in bulk: ordering a 90-day supply may cost only 2.5 times more than the usual 30-day.
  4. Buy from a preferred pharmacy: many Medicare Part D plans have preferred pharmacies where you’ll pay a portion of the costs of other non-preferred pharmacies.
  5. If you’re paying full-price until you get your deductible, or your plan doesn’t have a preferred pharmacy, shop around: some generic brands will cost you less if you pay in cash as opposed to using your insurance, like the $4 deal at Walmart and Costco.

For more tips, read here or join bUnited for a fair and sustainable world. 

 

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