Vitals Unveils Interactive Health Care Cost-Variation Map

The Price Is Varied Map Showcases Inequities in Pricing within States, Region to Region, Across the Country

 California, New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois Most Extreme; Present Greatest Case to Shop Carefully

View the map

April 20, 2016 – LYNDHURST, NJ – White elephants, rainbow unicorns and rational health care pricing are largely things of myth. Vitals, the company that helps people shop for health care like experts, recently confirmed the latter with the introduction of a nation-wide cost-variation map that showcases gross inequities in pricing within states, region to region and across the country for a number of common procedures from colonoscopies to x-rays.

Aptly named The Price Is Varied, the map details a given state’s cost ranking/range amongst the fifty states against six procedures, and highlights minimum, maximum and average pricing per state.

The findings strongly make the case that consumers can save significantly by actively shopping for routine health care – just as they shop for other commodities.

  • California is the highest cost market: it has the largest cost differences across all procedures.
  • Florida’s cost variation around an Upper GI procedure is most extreme of any tracked with the high cost provider 155x the cost of the low-cost provider ($15,007 vs $97). Advice to Floridians: shop around!
  • States on the low price variance side of the map can still have 10X cost differential. In Idaho, a state with relatively low price variation, an X-ray can range from $13 to $140.
  • Maine’s health care market is the most rational: lowest cost differentials for 4 of 6 procedures tracked.
  • While hardly across the street, North Carolina/South Carolina make the case for shopping across state lines when feasible. An X-ray in South Carolina could cost you over $628, while one in North Carolina tops out at $234

“This data makes it hard to figure out where to start in identifying rational procedure costs and reveals the depth of inexplicable health market dynamics – but importantly and conclusively suggests we indeed are operating in a random environment that favors the informed consumer,” said Vitals founder Mitch Rothschild.

He continued: “Historically, with rich benefit plans, health care pricing only mattered to the insurance companies that negotiated directly with the providers. But there needs to be a reckoning. Consumers, who are going out of pocket more for health care, need to care about pricing as much as quality. Only through consumer shopping can we expose these gross discrepancies and start to right size pricing in the health care market.”

Vitals operates SmartShopper, an engagement and incentive program available to employers that pays people to shop for care. In the company’s 2016 Book of Business report, the program helped people save over $11 million in medical costs.

With everyone in health care these days moonlighting as arm-chair data scientists, Vitals invites you to pore over The Price Is Varied Cost Map and tell us what you see and tell us why that insight is well, telling. Tweet us at #thepriceisvaried and we’ll repost the top ten insights. Selected tweets that best contribute to furthering the understanding of the cost variability plaguing health care will garner a $50 Amazon gift card for the insightful tweeter.

About Vitals

Vitals empowers everyone to shop for their health care like an expert. We bring together cost and quality transparency along with innovative consumer engagement programs to help people select high-quality, lower-cost care. Vitals leads the market with incentive and engagement programs that pay people to shop. Our solutions achieve measurable and sustainable savings for consumers, employers and health plans. Vitals helps more than 120 million people each year access better, more affordable care.

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