Go to one doctor's office to get a strep test, and they'll charge $8 for it.
Go to a different doctor's office in Minnesota – and that swab could be $101.
That's one of the findings of a new review released by the Minnesota Community Measurement, which has done this for three years now. It looks at how much medical care costs across the state, allowing people to compare clinics and procedures to find the best medical group for them.
The report analyzed and compared 1.5 million insurance claims from 2015 that totaled $8 billion in care costs, finding there are still massive differences between how much clinics are charging for the same procedure.
How clinics compare
The report looked at 121 medical groups (totaling 1,030 clinics) in Minnesota and neighboring states to show how they compare to the state average for total cost of care (that includes all the costs associated with treating a patient with commercial insurance). It also shows how much clinics charge for some of the most common procedures.
(Note: This isn't necessarily how much it costs you – it's a combination of what both you and your insurance pay to cover whatever the hospital or clinic charges.)
The report found there are 10 clinics where the overall cost of care per month "is significantly lower than the state average" of $474. The three lowest are:
- Synergy Family Physicians, P.A. in White Bear Lake, with an overall average cost of $365
- Community University Health Care Center in Minneapolis – $386
- Catalyst Medical Clinic in Watertown – $387
On the other end, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester is the most expensive for overall cost of care per month with a total of $914. (The report notes this is somewhat expected for the type of care the hospital provides.)
You can search through the cost rankings of all the other clinics here. The website also lets you search by specific procedure to see how it compares to the state average.
So why are some more expensive?
The Washington Post last year wrote about why Americans pay way, way more for medical procedures (generally) than people in other countries – but the care is basically the same. The conclusion: “This suggests that the difference in spending is mostly attributable to higher prices of goods and services.”
The hope is that this report will both inform patients better for when they're choosing a clinic, as well as show health care providers how they stack up against the competition – and show areas where they could cut costs and provide more efficient care, a news release says.
The report analyzed the cost differences for all the medical groups, finding that sometimes prices are higher because of the amount providers are paid or because of the intensity of services and use of resources (they order more tests and prescriptions or require more follow-up visits, which can drive up costs), the report explains.
To read the full report – which also breaks down how costs compare in different parts of the state, for the age of the patient, and by common procedure – click here.