Rx Central Coast: Comparing costs for procedures

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. - It's one thing to compare prices on prescriptions when you've left the doctor and have some time to look, but what about in the hospital, when you need a procedure or treatment, or worse, an emergency. That's why it's important to be informed ahead of time and for this "Prescription Central Coast" we're comparing costs on some common procedures.

"I just do what my doctor tells me." When you're in pain or worried about your health it's often not the time you're paying attention to costs. Dr. James Gilbert, the President of the Monterey Bay Independent Physician Association says, "One of the big problems in general is that consumers aren't often the ones who are paying for things. So, if you were paying for all of this on your own you'd pay a whole lot more attention."
Typically your insurance covers most of a procedure and you're just thinking about your deductible or out of pocket. He says, "It's not easy to get the information and most people don't bother, and that's one of the problems with this third party thing, cause what do I care what it costs my insurance company."

According to the American Hospital Directory, one of the top treatments in our area is for severe sepsis. At Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula and Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital the average cost is just over $17,000, but at Natividad your average cost is about $1,600 more. Several factors can go into the cost at any given hospital, but that's a cost you probably never see. Dr. Gilbert says, "And often times you don't even know afterwards, it's not always easy to translate what your costs are from the reports you get from the insurance company." That's why Dr. Gilbert says you should learn the options you have before you need them.

He says, "When there's value added to extra costs, great do it. When there's no value added, let's all be more cognizant and recognize that we're all paying for it."

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