U.S. HEALTH CARE PRICE INDEX SHOWS PRICE OF COVID-19 SCREENINGS ON THE RISE DURING THE “TRIPLEDEMIC”
COVID screening prices jumped 7% month-over-month in December; however, primary care telehealth visits held steady, along with mental health consults and more
NEW YORK, Jan. 10, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Released today, the latest U.S. Health Care Price Index, the first national resource to publicly document the price of cash-pay medical care in America, shows that prices for COVID-19 screenings increased across the country last month, rising 7% from a national average of $41.23 in November to $44.08 in December.
Prices for other types of care – from primary care telehealth to dermatology consultations and more – largely remained stable, despite the historic annual inflation that much of the U.S. economy is still experiencing.
Nationally, the price for a primary care telehealth visit increased by 1.4% from November to December 2022 ($40.82 to $41.40). Similarly, the price of a prescription refill visit rose by 1.5% over the same period, and UTI visit prices increased by 2.2% during that time (to $40.33). Americans paid less in December for their dermatology needs, as skin consultation prices dropped by 3.7% MoM, from $46.09 to $44.39 on average.
Mental health consult prices had been declining since September, when they reached their peak 2022 prices, but saw mild increases in December. Americans paid $0.50 more on average for a visit with a mental health clinician throughout December, compared to the previous month, with a national average price of $44.87.
The USHPI features pricing data for routine medical services in all 50 states – from primary care and mental health to women’s health and more – with additional prices and specialties to be added over time. In addition to regional and state comparisons, the USHPI tracks price variance and market trends on a monthly basis.
The entire USHPI database of monthly cash prices from May-December 2022 can be found here: www.sesamecare.com/compare/ushpi.
WHAT IS THE CASH PRICE OF MEDICAL CARE?
Simply put, the cash price is what a doctor or health care provider charges a consumer when a third-party payer - like insurance or a government entity - is not involved in the transaction. This could be because a patient does not have insurance, has a high-deductible health plan or chooses to pay their provider directly, without involving a middleman.
WHAT ARE EXAMPLES OF RECENT CASH PRICES?
In December, the average cash price of a primary care telehealth appointment in the United States, with a doctor or nurse practitioner, was $41.40. Texas was the most affordable state in which to book a visit ($37.14), and Louisiana was the most expensive at $56.10. Regionally, western, mid-Atlantic and southern states paid below average for primary care appointments, whereas patients in the Northeast and Midwest saw higher than average prices.
Americans who paid cash for a prescription refill appointment paid an average of $40.85 in December.
COVID screenings in December averaged $44.08 nationally. Most affordable COVID appointments in December were found in Florida and Colorado at $36.67 and $38.00, respectively; states paying the highest were Illinois ($53) and Connecticut ($100).
WHAT IS THE METHODOLOGY USED TO COLLECT THE DATA?
The data comes from Sesame, one of the largest cash-pay health care marketplaces in the United States. It covers the thousands of healthcare providers resident in the marketplace that charge cash prices for their services. Sesame analyzed thousands of primary care and specialty care appointments made on its platform, leveraging pricing data for patient appointments that occurred during December 2022.
Sesame is building a radically new healthcare system for uninsured Americans and those with high-deductible plans. The company’s marketplace replaces historically inefficient, expensive healthcare with a direct connection – either virtually or in-person – between patients and physicians. This direct connection enables Sesame to offer doctor visits, labs, imaging and prescription drugs at half the price. Founders include a Harvard PhD in health policy and economics; a former Goldman Sachs analyst; and entertainment executive and healthcare reformer David Goldhill, author of the legendary cover story in The Atlantic, “How American Health Care Killed My Father.” Sesame has raised $75 million so far from investors that include GV, Virgin Group and General Catalyst. The company was ranked #1 by Healthline for overall care in 2021 and 2022. For more information, please visit www.sesamecare.com.
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