Last year, health costs ate up almost 18% of American GDP
To try and answer this question, Jeanne Pinder's team called doctors and hospitals to ask what they would accept as a cash payment for simple procedures. Some people were helpful, some hung up or were rude, and some said their lawyers wouldn’t let them divulge the information. In cases when they did get a response, the costs were staggeringly different, depending on the hospital.
New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, and other places. She used the information to tell stories to people who were suffering. It also helped those avoid the “gotcha” medical bills. People using her data saved hundreds and thousands of dollars off their medical bills.
Some had to sell their car, go into bankruptcy, and skip a treatment-- all to pay off a medical bill. Imagine if you can afford the diagnosis, but not the cure.
In most of the developed world, sick people don’t have to worry about money. The price transparency will not solve every problem, but if we knew exactly how much things cost, it could at least help to alleviate our experience with healthcare. We don't know if it works, until we try.
Pinder does not know, but she states that if you don’t ask, you’ll never know— and you might save a ton of money. She believes that a lot of us and the system would be a lot healthier if we did ask.