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The price of medical care: What you should know

You may think that if you went to the emergency room in Mississippi seeking treatment for a broken leg that your expenses would be comparable to if you were seek medical help for the same injury in Arizona. Interestingly enough, medical expenses vary from state to state, depending on what type of service you are seeking. Research from the National Chartbook on Health Care Prices looked at payment data and medical claims to determine where states fall when it comes to pricing medical services. For example, a pregnancy ultrasound in Arizona is much cheaper than in Alaska, which costs over three times the national average. Mississippi is above the national average when it comes to medical costs.

The place where the procedure is performed can also affect the cost. For instance, if a knee surgery is performed in an outpatient clinic, it is less expensive than if they were to have the surgery in a hospital.

Why do the prices vary across states? What does this mean for people who are struggling to pay for their medical expenses? Some believe that the consolidation of hospitals and a lack of competition in certain areas leads medical institutions to increase their prices. In some states, hospitals and physicians must disclose their pricing to patients who ask.

As people are struggling to keep up with medical bills, some are forced to file for bankruptcy because they are not able to make their payments. This variance in health care costs contributes to this surge in medical expenses and may also contribute to the rise in bankruptcy filings due to medical debt.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.

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