“It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Ellen Zane, CEO of Tufts Medical Center, said. “Hospitals with better reimbursements can pay doctors more, and they can invest in new buildings, making those hospitals more attractive to the man on the street.” Tufts, for instance, is paid a median price of $125 for a mammogram, while the five other hospitals are paid a median price of between $200 and $325.
There is no evidence a difference in quality explains the price differentials. For instance, in angioplasty, each of the hospitals received the same quality rating from the Health Care Quality and Cost Council.
“The good news is that you can go anywhere in Boston and be assured that you are getting a good angioplasty,” Paul Levy, CEO of Beth Israel said. Levy has long been a proponent of cost transparency in the industry, even though he acknowledges it might not benefit his hospital financially.
“Over the next several years, prices will equalize, and some of our prices will have to go down, but some will go up.” But asked if he thought the hospital should adjust its prices to the median he said, “Would we voluntarily lower our prices? No.”