FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Harry Readshaw
Readshaw bill to allow medical price comparisons
HARRISBURG, May 2 – State Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, has introduced a bill which would set up a system for consumers to compare prices for medical services.
House Bill 2179 would require medical facilities to state the cost of a medical test or procedure before a doctor may order it for a patient. It would also require medical providers to list all services, supplies and fees on a public website, and require insurance companies to host a similar website stating how much they will pay for specific tests and procedures.
“It is imperative that we as consumers have access to this information before we allow any medical procedures to occur,” Readshaw said. “We look at grocery store sales flyers each week; shouldn’t we be able to invest the same amount of time and research in our own bodies?”
The bill was inspired by Dr. Joseph Rudolph, an Allegheny County medical doctor who has seen the changing limits and co-pays of his patients lead to skyrocketing out-of-pocket expenses, even for those who have solid insurance plans.
“Several recent incidents highlight the need for making this type of information available to patients,” Readshaw said.
One Pittsburgh-area resident has reported trying to compare prices in the region and found the price at one hospital to be $64,000, while at another local hospital the price for the same procedure was $32,000. It took three days to receive a quote from one of the institutions. Fortunately for this person, the time delay was not an issue and the prices were uncovered before the procedure.
“Time spent researching saved this patient 50 percent in this one instance,” Readshaw said.
ABC TV recently reported on a man in San Francisco who was suffering from appendicitis and went to his local emergency room. His bill ended up at nearly $60,000, of which $23,000 was out-of-pocket. After the surgery, he found another provider who would have performed the appendectomy for less than $10,000.
Following this report, the University of California at San Francisco researched the prices for treating appendicitis at various locations, and, looking at over 19,000 cases, found a range of prices from a low of $1,529 to a maximum of $182,955.
“When you realize that over 60 percent of all personal bankruptcies involve major medical costs, you see how we can all benefit from being informed consumers,” Readshaw said.
The bill is currently being considered by the House Health Committee.