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Consumer Reports: Healthcare Prices Vary Drastically Between States, Cities, Physicians

A study by Consumer Reports indicates that prices for medical procedures can vary drastically from city to city, hospital to hospital and physician to physician, according to a CNN report.

According to Nancy Metcalf, the magazine's senior program editor, the study found that there was "no such thing as a price for a healthcare service." She said procedures were much more likely to be expensive when performed in a hospital instead of a surgery center or physician office.

Ms. Metcalf said it can be difficult for consumers to discern how much a procedure will cost before they receive the bill. "It's like a trade secret," she said. "If you are a provider, you may not want consumers to know you're more expensive than the provider down the street."

Ms. Metcalf checked prices from United Healthcare, Aetna, Cigna and Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans and said she was "shocked" by the variation in price.

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