By Ron Shinkman, Editor, Laboratory Industry Report
New research by the firm Castlight Health has indicated that charges for basic lab tests have risen significantly in just the past year.
According to the data in Castlight’s Costliest Cities Analysis study, prices for a lipid panel and HPV tests ranged wildly even within the same city. And prices for the lipid panel—one of the most utilized lab tests in health care—have risen dramatically.
Although the average price of a lipid panel in New York City was $53, it ranged in price from $14 to $1,070. Moreover, the average price for that test has risen 51 percent over the past year. In San Francisco, the average price was $93, a year-over-year increase of nearly 300 percent.
Also in San Francisco, the average price for an HPV test was $187, while prices for that assay ranged from $32 to $390. Although the average price was much lower in Los Angeles at $67, prices ranged from $32 to $417. Castlight did not have any year-over-year price data for the HPV test.
Castlight said in a statement that high prices on tests that are often the linchpin of preventative care can lead to higher medical costs in the future if patients put off having those assays performed.
“These numbers are eye-opening,” said Kristin Torres Mowat, Castlight Health’s vice president of strategic alliances and data operations, in a statement. "Overall, the data demonstrate that medical price variances continue to reflect larger systemic problems in the U.S. healthcare system."