Medical Price Roulette: CBS News investigates the lack of transparency in America's health care system

CBS News investigates U.S. health care costs

Medical bills are a major frustration for many Americans who wonder what explains the prices and why they end up paying so much.

On Monday, CBS News will air the first of a three-part series called "Medical Price Roulette," which investigates the lack of transparency in health care pricing. The series is produced in partnership with ClearHealthCosts.  

"CBS This Morning" consumer investigative correspondent Anna Werner will dig into why costs charged by hospitals and other providers often vary dramatically, even within the same city. 

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On Monday, we talk to one man who needed emergency back surgery to avoid being paralyzed — and then faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills. On Tuesday, a woman talks about the surprise medical bills she incurred after a tragic miscarriage. And on Wednesday, we meet a 21-year-old chronic care patient who faces dramatically changing costs for her infusions. 

"Most of our viewers, I think it would be fair to say, don't understand the bills that they get, don't understand why the price was so high," Werner said. She asked Dr. Aaron Carroll, a pediatrician and health services researcher, "Is there transparency in health care pricing?"

"Oh my God, no," Carroll replied. "I'm laughing only in the sense that you think patients are the only ones that think there's no transparency.  I mean, people working in the system don't often know what the price is. When my patients ask me what the price is, I don't have an answer for them … Nothing about the United States' health care system really makes sense." 


We'd like to know what you paid for medical procedures. Share your story and learn how you can search ClearHealthCosts' database of prices in our sample markets. You can also email us at healthcosts@cbsnews.com.