Where you live can have a major effect on how much you pay for medical services, specifically blood tests, according to a new survey by the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI).
According to the data, over half of the median prices for a common blood test in the United States were under $100. But researchers reported that there were a few places where costs skyrocketed, namely the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach region where a test averaged $394 and Beaumont, Texas where people were paying about $444.
“Generally, Texas had some of the highest blood test median prices in the country, with 5 of the 12 highest prices studied,” the HCCI authors wrote. For instance, a blood test in Beaumont costs 25 times more than a blood test in Toledo, Ohio.
And prices don’t just vary between metro areas—they vary within metro areas, too. In fact, the study found that even after removing any outliers, the service with the highest cost in any given region was up to 39 times more than the same service with the lowest cost in that region (this is the case for the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. metropolitan area). And El Paso, Texas had the most variation in blood test prices, with the 90th percentile price a staggering $808 more than the 10th percentile.
Fortunately, no matter where you live, there are ways you can save on health care. Angela Davis, RN, senior vice president at StoneGate Senior Living advises, “Focus on researching in advance which healthcare providers (outpatient labs/X-rays, hospitals, physicians, hospitals, etc.) are contracted/participating/in-network with your health insurance plan.” In-network providers will cost much less than out-of-network providers.
Want more health insurance hacks? Here are 13 tricks to cutting costs the next time you go to the doctor.