Oregon hospitals have joined together to say they’ll provide patients with an estimate for services within three business days.
Getting a hospital estimate may not seem like a big deal. But hospital prices are notoriously hard to pin down, and they vary widely.
For example, a recent study on hip replacements in Oregon found prices 20 times higher in one hospital than another.
Felicia Hagins with Service Employees International Union called the hospital estimate a welcome idea, but not a fix. “Since most Oregonians, 95 percent of us have insurance, oftentimes, we don’t actually get to choose which hospital we go to," she said.
That means you can’t comparison shop.
Other problems are that to get an estimate, the procedure has to be scheduled — and that isn't always possible, as when surgery is needed after a car crash. Also, the five percent of Oregonians who don’t have insurance probably can’t afford to get a procedure done, even if they’re told how much it would cost.