It costs $420 more to get an MRI in Cuyahoga County than Lake County.
That's according to data from New Choice Health, a private company that encourages people to become smarter healthcare consumers.
The two counties border each other. Cuyahoga County includes the city of Cleveland and the headquarters for MetroHealth Medical Center, University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic.
These big regional differences have been in the news lately: As the Washington Post wrote last week, "One hospital charges $8,000 - another $38,000." Using the same data as the Post, The New York Times listed out the prices of a series of procedures in hospitals across the country.
The Times and the Post used data from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Patch worked with New Choice Health to examine the cost of four well-known procedures in Patch communities all across the country and found wide disparities – CT scans, colonoscopies, MRIs and mammograms. The examination revealed the costs can vary by thousands of dollars even within the same community.
Take Cuyahoga County. A colonoscopy in the county that includes the city of Cleveland, can go for as little as $1,450 or for as much as $6,330 – a difference of more than $4,800. The cost of a mammogram across Ohio, can be as little as $230 or as much as $660.
The prices from New Choice Health reflect the “list price” for these procedures – kind of like the sticker price on a car. Health insurance companies often end up getting different discounts and reimbursements depending the arrangements they have worked out with providers. But the point, says New Choice’s Brian Keigley, is to give consumers the information they need to negotiate for themselves.
Looking at the data, some trends seem to emerge. Often the communities with the well-known medical research centers seem to be some of the most expensive places to have procedures done – or they at least go higher on the high-end of costs.