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CT healthcare price variation varies

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Prices vary by city and for selected healthcare treatments, in some cases substantially, according to Healthscore CT, using the new All Payer Claims Database from the CT Office of Health Strategy and UConn Analytics and Information Management Solutions. The site provides important information on cost and quality for consumers and payers shopping for healthcare services but also provides a window into price variation in our state. The cost comparator provides visitors with the range of total cost, including both insurer and consumer out-of-pocket costs, for 40 outpatient and six inpatient routine, nonemergency procedures by provider and the state median price for comparison. Visitors can search by distance (5, 15, 35 miles or all) from their town. It’s a very useful tool for consumers looking for affordable care.

A quick comparison of four services (chest X-ray, MRI of the spine, colonoscopy with lesion removal and CT chest scan with contrast) within 15 miles of five Connecticut cities (Hartford, New Haven, Enfield, Norwich and Bridgeport) found great diversity in prices and variation. There was considerably less variation in the price of a chest X-ray across cities. However, prices for an MRI of the spine varied differently between cities. In Norwich prices varied by only 5.6%, with only two providers, while in Hartford, with seven providers, prices for the same MRI varied by 456%, suggesting that competition isn’t lowering prices.

Among cities, Norwich had the lowest variation in prices between providers across the five procedures we chose, while Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport showed substantial variation. Enfield was in the middle.

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