Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What if doctors could charge like airlines?

Say you want to book a trip to Amsterdam in the next few months. You know that Delta flies there. You go to Delta’s web site to see what the fares are like.

Here is the first screen after you insert your dates.

Wow! $368.60 one way. Looks good, right?

Oh, but what’s this (arrow)? The total price is $901.60? They apparently did not have a smaller font for the total price figure.

So you click on that number and here’s what you see.

Whoop-de-damn-do, the base fare includes US tax. But what on earth are all the other charges? The “International Surcharge” is a mere $470.00. In medicine, this is called “unbundling.”

I wish doctors could charge like this. Of course, we can’t because our fees are heavily regulated and discounted by the government and other third party payers while expenses steadily rise.

But I can dream. Here is a sample bill.

In case you are wondering, for an appendectomy Medicare's average reimbursement to the surgeon is $586.00.


Anonymous said...

But I have a right to an appendectomy...

/sarcasm off/

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Ah, yes. The right. Just like I have the right to have my luggage arrive with me. :-)

Faisal said...

Even in countries (Canada/UK) where fee schedules are a constant w/ single payor system, doctors still do not list procedure prices. It's sticker shock avoidance, plain and simple.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Here's a Twitter comment from @DrSethdb:

“@Skepticscalpel Need to add to fees: preop consent tariff, EMR surcharge, HIPAA levy, CPT5 tax, malpractice premium duty, surgeon travel fee”

Anonymous said...

Plus Sterilization Surcharge, Fuel Surcharge and Electricity Rider

Skeptical Scalpel said...

How could I have forgotten those important extras?

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