3 cities where knee replacement costs and quality bear no relation

What a hospital charges bears little resemblance to the quality of care received, Kaiser Health News reported.

The San Francisco-based healthcare survey firm Castlight focused on allowed charges and quality data in four major U.S. cities regarding knee replacement surgery. The survey took into account such factors as serious complications, infections and other avoidable problems related to the surgery.

According to Kaiser Health, a low-quality knee replacement procedure can cost $64,888, whereas a high-quality procedure can cost as little as $23,190--more than 60 percent less. In Washington, D.C., a low-quality knee replacement can run as much as $68,726, while a high-quality surgery can cost less than $30,000.

In Los Angeles, the disparities were by far the highest: A high-quality procedure can cost as little as $32,258, while a low-quality knee replacement can run as much as $95,222. However, a high-quality procedure in Los Angeles can top $220,000.

New York City was the only city where there was no overlap in price and quality: The cheapest high-quality knee replacement cost $53,114, and ran as high as $87,613. The lowest-quality procedures ranged in cost from $32,056 to $45,146.

Castlight concluded that there was no statistical relationship between the cost of knee replacements and the quality of care provided by the hospitals.

In an acknowledgment that the nexus of cost and quality data is making it difficult for consumers to make informed healthcare choices, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid is proposing  a star rating system in order to make the decision-making process easier.

To learn more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article