How Much Does a New Hip Cost?

As NPR reports, “even the surgeon doesn’t know”. Each year Medicare spends about $20 billion dollars on orthopedic surgeries. About half of this money goes toward orthopedic procedures.

The American population is aging, and more and more people will need orthopedic implants. But where the costs associated with orthopedics come from, and how much they are in general, are issues few have answers to.

A study in Health Affairs finds that only 21% of orthopedic surgeons were able to estimate the cost of a device. Some surgeons were only off by 1.5 times, others guessed up to 25 times too much.

The broader issue here is not just the lack of transparency in health costs, but also the relationship between hospitals and their surgeons. Surgeons don’t care about making the surgeries cheap, they are focused on patient outcomes. Hospitals though, have a financial incentive to reduce costs wherever possible.

The key is getting physicians and hospitals aligned around goals. When those parties are on common ground, change happens much more easily.

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