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Modern Healthcare: The striking variation of commercial healthcare prices

By: Bob Herman

Price and utilization are the two essential elements of the nation's health spending tab, and seemingly wild differences in prices for common medical procedures appear to be driving that bill up a lot.

One of the most comprehensive, independent studies of commercial healthcare prices shows that employers and insurers that provide private health coverage can pay a lot more for services depending on the state where people live. Those price differences even exist for routine procedures, like MRIs and ultrasounds, which should not be much different in theory. 

"As we think about policy responses to try and rein in increases to healthcare prices, the responses are going to have to be nuanced," said David Newman, executive director of the Health Care Cost Institute, who led the study.