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
Leslie Shepherd | EurekAlert!
Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland
Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy