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Letter: Monopolies enable higher health care prices

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Regarding Molly Work’s Nov. 12 article, “Body scan prices vary at Mayo, OMC,” I felt an important issue was left out of the quoted study and the comments by health providers. Price transparency and negotiation have little effect if the industry is allowed to operate monopolies.

When we moved to Southeast Minnesota, we knew the cost of our health care would increase dramatically, but we didn’t realize how little control we would have. Armed with the “Hospital Price Transparency Rule”, we researched pricing before scheduling scans. We found that we are trapped in Southeast Minnesota by our insurer and the clinics (Mayo and OMC) themselves.

A scan in Minneapolis was $750. Mayo quoted $3,000. OMC quoted $3,300. Feeling empowered, we decided to go to Minneapolis for the scan. Oh no! That’s “out of network” for our insurance and they would not pay. We looked at alternative health plans and they were not affordable.

The clinics blame poor negotiating skills by insurers. The insurers blame the clinics for pursuing profitability. The government offers transparency rules to increase competition. What good is transparency if we can’t make choices in our corner of Minnesota?

I understand that there isn’t room for too many high-level clinics, but I also don’t believe in allowing a medical monopoly that can dictate pricing. In my mind, legislated price regulation should be part of the conversation.

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Lisa Petersson, Elgin

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