The cost of one medical procedure can vary widely depending on where you look. This is according to a recent article in HealthDay News that focuses on the cost discrepancies of x-rays and computerized tomography (CT) scans.

The analysis found that the cost of these medical services may be higher at hospitals than at independent imaging centers. The average x-ray cost at a hospital was $140, compared to $76 at an imaging center. An average CT scan was $1,146 at a hospital, compared to $585 at an imaging center. Hospitals may also be slower to provide pricing information to the consumer, the story reported. And the issue of price transparency is not unique to radiology.

Most states do not have laws that guarantee consumers access to health cost information, according to a joint analysis performed by the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute and the Catalyst for Payment Reform.

Today, buying healthcare services is equivalent to grocery shopping with a blindfold on and being held responsible for a bill that comes long after you’ve consumed the goods.

The lack of price transparency contributes to lack of consumer engagement in health. Three out of four consumers do not price shop for medical services, according to a 2015 HealthMine survey. And yet one out of five insured Americans have avoided visiting a doctor for a general health concern within the past 12 months because of the cost.

“[Price transparency improves] cost awareness among both physicians and patient consumers,” said Dr. Licurse, one of the co-authors of the study.

If employer wellness programs could evolve beyond simple lifestyle management to a set of tools that facilitate healthcare consumerism, individuals could be more informed, engaged and empowered to manage both their health and the financial costs.

For the complete article in HealthDay News, click here.

[Photo Credit: MilitaryHealth on Flickr via Creative Commons 2.0]