Study: Wide price variation in women’s health services in Philly metro area

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     Chief technician Donna Burke demonstrates how a mammogram is given with the help of Sharon Born, the manager of the Women's Center. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

    Chief technician Donna Burke demonstrates how a mammogram is given with the help of Sharon Born, the manager of the Women's Center. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

    The price of a mammogram in Philadelphia metro area can vary anywhere from about $100 to $700, according to a new report from the private company, Castlight Health.

    Health care prices can be really hard to get, but Castlight has access to a lot of information through working with businesses across the country and analyzing what they and their employees actually pay for health care.

    The group’s survey of employers’ claims information from this past year found that in the Philadelphia metro area, prices for common women’s health services varied a lot, depending on where a woman went for care.

    A human papillomavirus test cost anywhere from $30 to $300, a mammogram anywhere from $100 to $700 and a preventive visit anywhere from $80 to $400.

    “So that’s a huge difference and that has very real implications for people,” said Eric Mann of Castlight. The survey did not include information on the quality of the procedures, but Mann said that cost is not necessarily correlated to quality in health care.

    There are a lot of theories on why such variation exists, but Mann said the point is that it can impact employers and employees.

    “A significant portion of women delay care because they don’t think they can afford it,” he said.

    Mammograms are typically completely covered under an insurance plan, but follow-ups may not be. Compared with 29 other metro areas included in the survey, Philadelphia ranked toward the bottom in terms of its average mammogram cost of $143.

    The study only highlights aggregate information, so it doesn’t give doctor-specific details.

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