Calif. group lists prices online

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 25, 2007

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HealthCare Partners Medical Group in Southern California, a staff-model HMO and physician group, recently posted on its Web site prices for 58 medical procedures. It's a move CEO Robert Margolis, MD, described as a response to the growing trend of patients shopping around for health services and paying out of pocket.

"We clearly have a new generation of patients, of consumers, who believe they can shop for anything on the Internet, find what they want and interact with their purchasing decisions," said Dr. Margolis, an internist. "That's a health care phenomenon to some degree."

Patients can click a link at the group's Web site (link) for fees for basic services and find prices for such procedures as a colonoscopy, flu vaccine for a baby, and a sports physical.

"Before the advent of health insurance, doctors always posted their prices and people paid out of pocket," Dr. Margolis said. "Then insurance came along and people didn't have to pay out of pocket so they had no real interest in what prices were. Now with higher deductible plans, they're interested in prices again."

The AMA supports the posting of prices by physicians and others. But the Association says true transparency will come only when insurers reveal to consumers what they pay.

But Dr. Margolis said that should not be a plan's responsibility.

"People get their health care from their doctor group, and that's where they should get that information," he said.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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