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Univ. of Iowa Hospitals Study Shows Lack Of Hospital Transparency

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IOWA CITY, Iowa A new study suggests a large variation between prices of one common medical procedure. Researchers at the University of Iowa found that 40 percent of top-ranked hospitals were unable to provide a price estimate for a total hip replacement procedure. Costs quoted from 120 hospitals across the nation ranged from $11,100 to $125,798.

"We don't know if we would have gotten the same findings if we looked at other procedures," said Peter Cram, M.D. "As a researcher I suspect the results would have been quite similar."

Cram's colleague, Jaime Rosenthal, phoned hospitals across the nation, seeking a cost estimate on behalf of her fictitious grandmother.

"This took a lot of phone calls and a lot of persistence, and it wasn't easy to get the prices out of these hospitals and when they did the variation was huge," Cram said.

The information suggests an overwhelming lack of transparency in America's hospitals. It also gives evidence that there is an advantage to shopping around, according to Cram.

"The glass half full side is, gosh we got some really good prices from some nationally ranked hospitals," he said.

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