A recent healthcare study in South Florida, conducted by heath tech firm Castlight Health, confirms what many already knew – the fluctuating and often high costs of medical procedures in the region.
In South Florida the only consistence cost for medical procedures are for routine annual physical, averaging $100 per visit. But after that the price range gets confusing, especially for patients without health insurance. And for the insured, the coverage from several companies for procedures like mammograms, colonoscopies, and MRIs are fixed, despite the actual cost.
Miami Lakes resident Heather Little said she was “floored” when she got the bill for cancer screenings ordered from a routine mammogram.
“When I was told I had to see a specialist to do follow-up tests I was more worried about the outcome of the tests than the cost, although the specialist office said they would cost around $2,000,” said Little. “I was confident my insurance company would cover it. I was shocked when the office called saying the insurance company would only pay $700, and I needed to find over $1,300 before the tests.”
And when she called other offices for a lower price, Little found other specialists charging more as high as $2,800.
For South Florida residents without health insurance and ineligible for Obamacare, their only recourse is to borrow funds for preventative tests, or visit public clinics or hospital emergency rooms.
Lilith Armstrong, admissions clerk at a Broward County health clinic, said their facility is often overbooked.
“Patients often complain about the long wait, but that can’t be helped because the appointment schedule is jam-packed daily,” said Armstrong.
The Castlight study shows the average cost for procedures like mammograms in the Broward/Miami-Dade is $307, making the region the 9th most expensive among 30 major cities. Even for residents with insurance policies, the procedure ranges from as low as $96 to $510.
A Kendall imaging center account Bob Ryalto says the reason for the high bills are from the high-cost of equipment and electricity.
“You would be surprised how much power these equipment use, and electrical cost is very expensive in South Florida,” said Ryalto.
Costs for these tests aren’t much cheaper if conducted at a hospital emergency room. Philbert Donahue, supervisor at a Miramar collection agency for emergency room bills, said “six out of every 10 patients calling about their ER bill said the reason they couldn’t pay is because they couldn’t meet the high cost for procedures.”