Price Check

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Consumers price check for everything.  So why not healthcare, too?

Or put the question in the reverse.  If it goes without saying to compare prices on everything from catsup to kitchen throw rugs, who would not want to compare prices on a blood test that might be more than $100 more expensive at one place than another.  The price variation discovered for one common blood test — the Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP) — is illustrated below: From nearly $173 at Summa, down to $19 at a local lab connected to a physicians’ group.

In a January 2014 report, Crain’s Cleveland reported on Northeast Ohio hospital executives who actually expect consumers to do more shopping around before they commit to care and services.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite as easy to compare pricing on health care services as, say, prices at the fuel pump, or at department stores.

As the Crain’s report also notes, the start of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will likely accelerate price comparisons for health services, as some of the base-level plans on the federal marketplace require patients to spend $5,000 or $6,000 out of pocket before their insurance kicks in.

Even among those with insurance through employers, many must pay high out-of-pocket costs to meet deductibles before insurance coverage begins.

To help consumers with price comparisons, has revamped its website to focus on helping consumers with price comparisons.

Consumers can come to this website for regular posts that offer actual price comparisons for common health care services and procedures — and for information on where to find more information on health care pricing.

Typically, cost comparisons will include prices of two major service providers, as well as the lowest-cost provider, either identified through sources on this website, or from new sources that readers point out.

Ready to start price checking?

Below you’ll find price comparisons for two of the most routine blood tests — the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), and the BMP noted above.  You’ll also find links below on where to go to check charges on other common blood tests.

The charges appear on each provider’s website, as of March 2014.

Test Published Charges
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
Summa Health System*
Akron General Medical Center**
Pioneer Physician Network***


Test Published Charges
Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP) Summa Health System *
Akron General Medical Center **
Pioneer Physician Network ***

*Akron City and St. Thomas Campuses; See a full list at Summa-Akron-City-and-St-Thomas-Hospitals-2013-published-charges-finaURLl(2)(2)

** AGMC main Campus; See Akron General full published laboratory price list

*** Includes $5 draw fee. Pioneer Physicians Network Central Laboratory services are available to the general public at Columbia Woods Medical Group in Norton, Northeast Family Healthcare in Tallmadge, and the South Main Street Medical Center location in Portage Lakes/Green.

The fee schedule for the most common lab orders is listed on Pioneer’s website; fees apply to labs processed within the Pioneer Physicians Network Central Laboratory. For a comprehensive list of labs, call (330) 633-7064.

Patients must pay at the time of service with cash, check, or credit card. Test results will be sent directly to the ordering physician.

Notice to consumers:

As the Ohio Department of Health explains  on its website,  publicly reported health care charges may be higher than what is actually paid to  hospitals due to  discounting. The state health department further notes a variety of reasons why hospital changes may differ, including indigent care and medical education costs.

Because healthcare information changes rapidly, you should always verify information with your providers.