DAVE ROSS

Ross: $6,000 drill bit highlights absurdity of hospital prices

Mar 23, 2021, 7:15 AM | Updated: 11:16 am

It was one of the Trump administration’s least controversial rules, requiring that hospitals post their prices online so we can search for the best deal.

The rule kicked in at the beginning of the year, and it appears that some hospitals initially resisted. The Wall Street Journal reported it discovered hospitals posted their prices already, but then added a snippet of hidden code to their web sites that blocked search engines from indexing the information. Sneaky.

The Journal says the code seems to have disappeared – and I can vouch for that, because when I started searching for hospital prices list, I got all sorts of hits. In fact, when I searched for the price list at UW Medicine, I got an Excel spreadsheet with 16,384 lines.

Cheapest procedure: A Pfizer COVID vaccine shot for 83 cents. Most expensive: A pacemaker sensor the hospital bills at $179,418.

Here’s another one: On line 15,089 on the spreadsheet, there’s a 2.8 millimeter drill bit that the hospital bills at $6,565.46. On a medical supply website, you can buy it for $510.

So, points for transparency.

But here’s the takeaway: Even when hospitals are 100% transparent and post their entire cost list, are you going to read it? And more to the point, are you going to read it when you’re in the kind of pain that requires a $6,000 drill bit?

If we’re facing surgery, we don’t care what the drill bit costs.

It’s nothing like shopping for, say, granola. And if we’re comparing brands of granola, we all know what to look for. But comparison shopping for hospitals is part of this fantasy that competition will drive down the cost of health care. What it seems to drive instead is hospital mergers.

Based on the prices I’ve seen lately in the cereal section, I don’t even think it works for granola either.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross

(Getty Images)...
Dave Ross

Ross: The joyful responsibility of raising the next generation

Any of you who are grandfathers or grandmothers know how delightful it is to babysit a two- or three-year-old who is just learning about the world.
3 days ago
Officer who shot, killed Charleena Lyles testifies in inquest (KIRO 7)...
Frank Sumrall

Officer who shot, killed Charleena Lyles testifies in inquest

Seattle police Officer Jason Anderson answered questions before a jury in the King County Child and Family Justice Center.
4 days ago
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) speaks to pro-life activists in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Buil...
Dave Ross

Ross: Overturning Roe was just the beginning for conservative lawmakers

Former State Attorney General Rob McKenna explains personhood laws, which give a fetus full human rights, and which could require blood tests to establish paternity within weeks of conception.
4 days ago
Cassidy Hutchinson, a top former aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, describes t...
Dave Ross

Ross: Jan. 6 committee hearing reveals alleged presidential attack of Secret Service agent

The alleged wheel-grab was the most dramatic part of Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony during yesterday’s snap session of the January 6th Committee.
5 days ago
Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy answers questions after his legal...
Dave Ross

Ross: SCOTUS ‘rules’ that the ‘war’ on religion is over. What’s next for the faith community?

There will soon be millions more poor children to take care of. School violence, drug abuse, crime, suicide, abortion – these problems are all begging for better solutions.
6 days ago
Demonstrators protest the ruling on Roe v. Wade near the Westlake Center (MyNorthwest Staff)...
Dave Ross

Ross: Every unplanned pregnancy involves a man who refused a vasectomy

25 states will now have the power to require that pregnant women – who choose to live in those states – must give birth.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Ross: $6,000 drill bit highlights absurdity of hospital prices