HARTFORD, CT — How much does a colonoscopy cost in Connecticut?

That depends on where the procedure is done. The state median price is $891, according to a new public database.

At the higher end a diagnostic colonoscopy will cost a patient around $2,077 at Bristol Hospital, $1,995 at Greenwich Hospital, $1,978 at Stamford Hospital and $1,861 at Vassar Health Connecticut in Sharon. At the lower end it’s $362 at Rockville General Hospital in Vernon and $512 at Advanced Colon Care in Old Saybrook.

That information which came from around 235,000 patients and 263,700 medical procedures is now available on the HealthScoreCT.com cost estimator. The cost estimator is the second part of the website that was launched earlier this year. The first part focused on quality ratings of various medical providers.

The cost estimator draws on information from the states All-Payer Claims Database and allows consumers to compare the cost of about 46 outpatient and inpatient procedures. Not every medical procedure such as childbirth and delivery are included in the database.

The database is limited in that it only includes information from patients enrolled in commercial insurance plans regulated by the state and the 210,000 Connecticut state employees and retirees. Information on Medicaid and Medicare patients is not included in the cost estimator tool, but may be in the future.

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said $891 for a diagnostic colonoscopy is around the same cost of a large appliance.

She said for appliances consumers are able to go to Consumer Reports and look at price and quality, “so this is a really nice adjunct to the quality part of HealthScoreCT.com.”

“Our state is always looking for ways to save on healthcare,” Bysiewicz said.

Sen. Matt Lesser, D-Middletown, said he’s not the most sophisticated consumer, but he is the co-chair of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee and it’s “tough to figure out what things cost.”

He said this website gives the power back to consumers, who can use the information to find the best quality and cost.

The effort to get this website up and running was bipartisan.

Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, said that “reducing healthcare costs, improving quality and access are the foundation of this initiative.”

He said this website will provide information and “we all know information is power and by doing so we hope to empower our families.”

Connecticut Health Information Technology Officer Allan Hackney said the site will help patients start the discussion with their providers and their insurance company.

He said all Connecticut insurers are required to submit claims data to the All-Payer Claims Database and the cost data includes a range of payments made by the insurers for any particular procedure.

“It’s a good starting point for understanding the cost of care given,” Hackney said.

However, Office of Health Strategy Executive Director Vicki Veltri warned it should not be a substitute for talking to your doctor and insurance company. The costs don’t take into account an individual’s deductible, co-pay or co-insurance.

“This data is complex,” Veltri said.

She said they will be digging deeper into the numbers in the future to understand everything that’s included with the cost of the procedure. She said for in-patient services each hospital may have a different rate for the length a person must stay in the hospital.

“This is a good starting point. It doesn’t necessarily represent all the patient costs,” Veltri said.

She said for policymakers this data gives them the ability to ask about why costs are what they are and why they vary so much. 

She said most people know how much they are paying monthly for health insurance, but they have very little information about how much a procedure costs.

“We don’t know what the charges are. We don’t know what the carriers are actually paying for their services,” Veltri said. “That information has to get out. We’re in a dilemma together on high healthcare costs and we have to work together to solve that dilemma.”

Veltri said consumers need this information to drive change.