Study: Price for appendix removal varies wildly

Surgery to remove a ruptured appendix is very common but a very interesting study found the price of such a common procedure can vary wildly depending on the hospital.

On ABC World News, ABC’s Dan Harris reported that Dr. Renee Hsia “launched a study, examining what thousands of patients all over California paid for their appendectomies.”

The New York Times “Well” blog reports that “according to the report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, fees for a routine appendectomy in California can range from $1,500 to – In one extreme case – $182,955. Researchers found wide variations in charges even among appendectomy patients treated at the same hospital.”

The AP reports, “The researchers and other experts say the results aren’t unique to California and illustrate a broken system.”

According to Dr. Hsia, “there’s no system at all to determine what is a rational price for this condition or this procedure.”

MSNBC reports, “The variation in price could partly be explained by differences in hospital ownership – whether a hospital was nonprofit, for profit or county-owned – and whether a facility was a trauma center or a ‘teaching’ hospital. But about one-third of the variation remained unexplained, the researchers said.”

On its website, ABC News quotes Dr. Hsia as saying, “If you go to a hospital, they can charge you whatever they want. Negotiated rates are trade secrets.”

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