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Price of hip replacement varies widely

February 14, 2013

Hip replacements are common among the senior population and can help them enjoy independent living, but a recent review of hospitals throughout the country found that older adults are paying a wide range of prices for the procedure, something that could weigh heavily on their retirement financial planning.

The study, led by researchers from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, looked at the costs of hip replacement at hospitals in each state as well as Washington, D.C. They did so by randomly calling the hospitals and asking what the lowest bundled price of a hip replacement for their 62-year-old grandmother would be. Surprisingly, they found that the cost ranged from as low as $11,100 to nearly $126,000. Researchers say that the large range in prices is indicative of the fact that hospitals are not too sure of what their expenses are.

"A big finding was the absolutely huge variation in price estimates," said study author Peter Cram. "We believe that our results highlight the reality that hospitals have a very hard time knowing their own prices."

Experts say the results should spur the call for more transparency when it comes to hospital pricing, something which has proven to be increasingly difficult over the years. This is especially important for hip replacements and other similar surgeries, as many older adults require the treatment to alleviate pain caused by aging bones and joints. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 327,000 hip replacements performed each year in the United States, but experts expect the number of such procedures to increase in the coming years as the population ages.