Poor Accessibility to Consumer Pricing Exists for Elective Hernia Repair Surgery
Joshua A. Bloom, MD1, Tina Tian, MD1, Carly Wareham, MD1, Kerry A. Gaffney, MD1, Cherilyn Song, BSA2, Natalie Pawlak, MS2, Yurie Sekigami, MD1, Christopher Homsy, MD1, Sarah Persing, MD, MPH1, Abhishek Chatterjee, MD, MBA1, Lilian Chen, MD1
1Tufts Medical Center Department of Surgery Boston, MA; 2Tufts University School of Medicine Boson, MA
Background: Hospital price transparency has become federally mandated to help improve consumer accessibility to healthcare pricing. The goal of this study was to evaluate how hospitals were complying with these new regulations with regards to elective inguinal and ventral hernia repair.
Methods: Searches were performed by five individual authors for each hospital system and procedure using their own health insurance. Data collected included time taken to reach the cost estimate tool, time taken to obtain price estimates, and price ranges. Quantitative statistical analysis was performed with p value < 0.05 indicating significance.
Results: Fourteen major academic medical centers in Massachusetts, Texas, and California regions were included for analysis, of which all had a form of cost estimate calculator on their website. The average success rate of obtaining a cost for inguinal hernia was 49%, 60%, and 35% for Massachusetts, Texas, and California, respectively. Comparatively, the average success rate of obtaining a cost for ventral hernia was 20%, 7%, and 10% for Massachusetts, Texas, and California, respectively. In successful attempts, the median time to reach the cost of an inguinal hernia was 45 seconds (35-73 seconds) with an average pre-insurance cost of $13,233 ($11,793-22,595). The median time to reach the cost of a ventral hernia was 45 seconds (36-68 seconds) with an average pre-insurance cost of $9,470 ($7,274-31,329).
Conclusions: Despite new federal mandates for hospital price transparency, online cost-estimate calculators are still lagging behind. There is a need for more accessible online cost-estimate calculators for patients undergoing elective hernia repair.
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