January 26, 2016

Costliest city of the week: The final edition

We all know that the cost of living varies city-by-city, but is this the same case for the prices of common medical procedures?

We – at Castlight Health – resolved in 2015 to answer this question by conducting our second annual U.S. Costliest Cities Analysis. Zeroing in on the 30 largest cities in the nation, we selected ten to showcase in a blog series (check out the posts if you haven’t already).

As with our first 2014 analysis, we found that price variation for common medical procedures remains all over the map! New for 2015, we included never-before-seen data from a set of four procedures specific to women’s health.

Our two takeaways:

  • Prices vary wildly (on average) for the same procedure from city-to-city
  • Prices fluctuate greatly for the same service, in the same city

Not convinced? Check out these curious pricing facts:

  • An HPV test in San Francisco is 6x more expensive than in Charlotte
  • A lipid panel in Dallas can vary up to 35x
  • An adult preventive primary care visit in Chicago can vary up to 8x
  • A mammogram in Los Angeles can vary up to 11x

These insights are more than just a collection of fun facts. They matter because, at Castlight, one of our goals is to engage employees to make better healthcare decisions. They matter because enabling employees to understand how much they could overpay for a common service is a big step toward smarter healthcare consumerism.

Where does this leave us for 2016? We have big plans to continue addressing the rising costs of healthcare and employee engagement. But, we’re bidding a final farewell to our “Costliest city of the week” blog series.

Remember – no matter your city – healthcare costs vary wildly, so “you better shop around” (like Smokey Robinson & The Miracles said) before making that MRI or mammogram appointment!

Don’t worry though – you can always refer back to out our interactive map, and review the fun facts we presented in each post!

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