The Average American Doesn’t Know How Much These Common Medical Procedures Actually Cost

It’s hard to explain why health care costs in America are so outrageous. The United States is unique in that it doesn’t have a centralized, national health care system. And the system we do have — a semi-free market with plenty of regulation and single-payer systems for some — produces mixed outcomes. For that reason, it’s hard to get a fix on how much you’re paying for services — or how much you should be paying.

The price of an ER visit, for example, can vary to an incredible degree. In one city or hospital, it’ll cost $1,000. In another, it’ll be $5,000. And nobody seems to be able to explain why. It’s confusing, frustrating, and above all, expensive.

When you’re ready to make a big purchase, you typically have a ballpark figure of what you intend to spend. It might be $20,000 for a car, for example. But when it comes to health care? It’s an entirely different ballgame.

A new report by drives that home. The report looks at a variety of health care services and the degree to which the average American overestimates or underestimates the costs. That can lead to a pleasant surprise when you get the bill — or nauseating horror.

“Americans often underestimate the cost of health care. They also overestimate the price of some common health care procedures,” the report said. “We conducted a survey of 1,000 Americans to find out what they think health care should cost and then compared it to the reality of today’s medical price tags.”

Here are 18 common medical procedures most of us get wrong on price. How much are you paying for these?

1. Nonemergency visit to urgent care: Overestimate by 50%

A hospital worker pushes a cart past the patient information center

A hospital worker pushes a cart past the patient information center A hospital worker pushes a cart past the patient information center. | Mike Simons/Getty Images

We’ll kick things off with the good news. That is, there are many common medical procedures that cost less than you’d think. A nonemergency visit to urgent care is the most overestimated health care cost out there, per InsuranceQuotes’ report. Americans overestimate this cost by 50%. These costs can vary wildly depending on what you’re dealing with, but the average bill is between $100 and $200.

Next: Do you dread going to the dentist?

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