A consumer's view of costs in a changing system

01/16/2013 | Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model)

High costs and pricing variation – an MRI may cost more than $3,200 in a hospital but only $300 in a local clinic – are among the factors that strain the health care system and make it difficult for consumers to find out how much care really costs, writes David Lazarus in this inside look at medical care costs based on his own experience. Additionally, providers are paid based on the number of services rendered, encouraging more care rather than better care, but that model is poised for a massive shift. "Right now, the more patients we have in the hospital, the more money we make," said Dr. David Feinberg, president of UCLA Health System. "Soon, we'll make more money by keeping you out of the hospital."

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