When patients visit our practice, especially with injuries that are severe or require extensive treatments, one of the very first questions we receive is, “How much will this treatment cost?” It’s no surprise that this topic comes up immediately, especially with more and more patients shifting to healthcare plans with higher deductibles, and let’s face it…no one wants to deal with an unexpected bill. As I’m sure many of you have experienced, health care providers can become a little standoffish at this question. Patients may believe that the reason for this attitude shift is that doctors don’t want them to know the total cost for their care, but that’s generally not the case. The sad reality is that our current healthcare system makes it incredibly difficult for practices to provide clear information on costs, and it leaves doctors in the uncomfortable position of having to play a guessing game instead of providing facts and figures that their patient requested. From past personal experience, I can assure you that it’s extremely frustrating to not be able to provide this information up front.
But how can pricing be so difficult? The answer is simple – our healthcare system is currently so complex, and completely lacking in standards for pricing, that costs can vary widely. Factors for cost can depend on individual insurance company policies, circumstances surrounding the injury, where the treatment may be taking place, and the policies of that facility…the list can seem endless. Take this into consideration: under our current system, prices can vary up to 700%, for the same service, in the same network, in the same area!
This is the reason Charlottesville Orthopaedic Center wholeheartedly believes in transparency in pricing. It’s good for our practice, but more importantly, it’s the right thing to do for our patients.
Imagine being able to go to a doctor and receive an upfront price, without the typical hemming and hawing around a final number. Wouldn’t that be refreshing? We think so, which is why we do our very best to provide our clients with accurate cost information. Not only does this prevent sticker shock for our clients, but it also allows our conversations to focus more on the treatment of the injury or condition rather than on money. A huge stressor is removed, and the questions we hear turn from money to exploration of options available for treatment, as well as what those options entail. Instead of focusing on price, our doctors can now focus 100% on patient care, which is really why we became doctors in the first place.
Not only are patients free to dig into the details of treatment once a price has been provided, they are also empowered to make their own decisions on who should be providing the treatment. Transparency in pricing is a growing issue for the healthcare industry. As more and more patients demand clear pricing information, companies have appeared to provide research tools to help clarify what procedures cost on average in different areas of the country. It is a relief to see that steps are being taken to help consumers, but what would be even better is clarity in pricing across the board. Instead of our patients having to rely on third-party information, we envision a time when they can easily receive second (or third, or fourth) opinions that include a clear estimate of price. The decision about value will then rest where it belongs – in the hands of the person paying for and receiving the treatment.
What all of this means is that everyone in the scenario can focus on the real priority – fixing the problem and getting patients back to leading active, pain-free lives. Throughout my time as a orthopaedic surgeon, I’ve been committed to bringing my patients transparent pricing information. It’s a passion for me, which is why as Chairman of the Board at Monticello Community Surgery Center I’ve pushed for clear, upfront pricing information for all patients choosing to be treated there. If you visit the website, you’ll see a list of prices for most treatments offered.
Within the coming weeks, you will see our commitment to transparent pricing apparent on our website, where we will be posting cost information for common procedures done at Charlottesville Orthopaedic Center. It’s what our patients want, so we are happy to provide this important piece of the treatment puzzle openly and without reservation.