Average hospital outpatient department prices for common imaging, colonoscopy and laboratory services can be double the price for identical services provided in a physician’s office or other community-based setting, according to a study by researchers at the former Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). Using private insurance claims data for about 590,000 active and retired nonelderly autoworkers and their dependents, researchers found, for example, that the average price for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of a knee was about $900 in hospital outpatient departments compared to about $600 in physician offices or freestanding imaging centers. Likewise, the average hospital outpatient department price for a basic colonoscopy was $1,383 compared to $625 in community settings. For a common blood test—a comprehensive metabolic panel—the average price in hospital outpatient departments was triple the price—about $37 compared to $13 in community settings.
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