Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Wide variations in charges for special lenses

Some ophthamologists charge 8 times more than others

A new study has found huge variations in what ophthalmologists charge for a device used in one of the most common surgeries in Ontario.

While universal insurance covers the cost of cataract surgery and implanting an artificial lens, some ophthalmologists charge extra for implanting a special lens deemed not "medically necessary" or for related tests. This would include lenses that correct refractive issues such as farsightedness.

Those "add-on" fees varied substantially, with some ophthalmologists charging as much as eight times as much as others for the same product, said Dr. Chaim Bell, a physician and researcher at St. Michael's Hospital.

Dr. Bell said he believes his telephone survey is the first of its kind in this area. He got an 88 per cent response rate from eligible ophthalmologists and 100 per cent from those who would discuss prices by phone.

His results were published today in the peer-reviewed open-access journal PLoS ONE.

He found a majority of cataract surgeons charged less than the maximum $1,144 recommended by the Canadian Ophthalmological Society for a toric IOL (intraocular lens) with IOLMaster biometry (measuring eyesight post-surgery).

But some charged more than $1,000 more than what could be considered reasonable or fair -- which may represent "predatory pricing" and a "market failure," he said. This is of particular importance because the overhead costs of cataract surgery are universally covered by a government payer and those surgeons who set prices at the high end of the range may earn more from the added charges associated with specialty lenses than from performing the operation itself.

Dr. Bell said one implication of his study is that patients should do comparison shopping and recognize that certain charges associated with surgery may be "marked up" for profit and not cost recovery. But he said this was not easy, because some cataract surgeons would not discuss prices over the phone.

"Given the large price variation we observed, it would seem the market for specialty lenses is a striking example of the difference between classical and medical economics," Dr. Bell said.

Dr. Bell said his research has implication for policymakers.

"We have identified highly variable pricing for similar and often identical products and services," he said. "Potential solutions to protect that patient as consumer in this context would involve making the prices publicly available or regulating prices through a third party such as a publicly funded hospital or through legislation."

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael's Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 23 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital's recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Center, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

For more information or to interview Dr. Bell, please contact:

Leslie Shepherd
Manager, Media Strategy,
Phone: 416-864-6094 or 647-300-1753
St. Michael's Hospital
Inspired Care. Inspiring Science.
Follow us on Twitter:

Leslie Shepherd | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Ophthalmologists eyesight post-surgery special lenses

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

First-time reconstruction of infectious bat influenza viruses

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Novel method to benchmark and improve the performance of protein measumeasurement techniques

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Amazon rain helps make more rain

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>