FYI: Health Care Pricing

Mission specialists Patrick Forrester (left) and Tim Kopra work on the flight deck of space shuttle Discovery.
Mission specialists Patrick Forrester (left) and Tim Kopra work on the flight deck of space shuttle Discovery. Credit: NASA

When it comes to the cost of an operation, many people don't bother to ask the price. But now that more insurance plans are raising deductibles and cutting benefits, there's a new way to shop around for surgery online. Below are some resources and sites you can access.

How much have health care costs risen?

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services projects that total health expenditures are estimated to be $2.16 trillion in 2006, and are projected to rise to over $4 trillion in 2015. Per person health spending is $7,110 this year and is projected to increase to $12,320 by the end of the period.

U.S. health care spending is expected to increase at similar levels for the next decade reaching $4 trillion in 2015, or 20 percent of GDP, according to the National Coalition on Healthcare.

What are average insurance premiums?

The annual premium that a health insurer charges an employer for a health plan covering a family of four averaged $10,800 in 2005. Workers contributed $2,713, or 10 percent more than they did in 2004.The annual premiums for family coverage eclipsed the gross earnings for a full-time, minimum-wage worker ($10,712).

Where can I find medical prices? enables you to get estimated breakdown of costs.

Through the state of Florida's website you can see data on certain conditions and procedures related to quality of care, pricing and performance at the state's hospitals and outpatient surgery centers.

Click here for South Dakota hospital pricing information.

Dartmouth Medical Center lists almost every procedure.

Some state hospitals like, the Wisconsin PricePoint Association have pricing data.

Medicare's website lists prices for Part B covered drugs for the fourth quarter of 2006.

To learn more about health care pricing:

• This Kaiser Family Foundation survey looks at the views and experiences of people enrolled in consumer-directed health plans as compared to people with traditional health insurance.

• The National Coalition for Healthcare costs has additional information.

• Some insurance companies, including Aetna, provide price, clinical quality and efficiency information for physicians.