St. Luke's University Health introduces all-inclusive procedure pricing

A Pennsylvania-based hospital system has introduced what it says is all-inclusive procedure pricing for its would-be patients.

The system, St. Luke's University Health, which is headquartered in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, said it is providing the pricing primarily for patients with high-deductible insurance plans. The site, called St. Luke's Price Checker, provides a bundled price, including the cost of the anesthesiologist and any other typical ancillary services. 

"The whole idea is to make it a retail approach so that you know up front exactly what the required cost will be," Francine Botek, St. Luke's vice president of finance, told Lehigh Valley Live.

A tonsillectomy for a child under the age of 12 costs $2,650. A hip arthroscopy costs $5,525. A breast lumpectomy costs $3,125. A laparoscopic hysterectomy costs $7,400.

"St. Luke's is leading the region's healthcare providers in providing affordable healthcare options and in providing easily understandable pricing options for patients. In fact we believe we are the first full service hospital and health system in the nation to offer this type of price transparency program," said St. Luke's Chief Operating Officer Joel Fagerstrom in a statement

However, it does not appear to provide differentials based on a person's individual policy. And the prices do not reflect what enrollees in Medicare and Medicaid would pay. As the recent experience of a New York City physician suggested, some patients may actually be better off paying for procedures such as mammograms out of pocket than relying on their insurer.

One other healthcare provider posts quotes for bundled services on the Internet: The Surgery Center of Oklahoma, which for the most part focuses on self-insured employers and cash-pay patients. However, the posting of its prices on its website may have forced hospitals in the Oklahoma City area to push down their chargemaster prices, even if few post the information online.

To learn more:
- read the St. Luke's statement 
- check out the pricing website
- here's the Lehigh Valley Live article