Letters to the Editor

Sticker shock at Whidbey General

Since starting www.whidbeygeneralreformers.com six months ago, I’ve published 24 investigative reports in hopes of making our public hospital administrators more accountable. When someone told me we’re paying twice as much as elsewhere for our lab and radiology services, I made some phone calls to a half dozen area competitors.

I obtained prices for two common blood tests, a set of X-rays, a CT scan  and an MRI. The results: Whidbey General’s sticker prices are over three times that of the lowest-price competitor for the blood tests, 6.24 times as high for X-rays, 4.42 times as high for a CT scan of the head, and 3.59 times as high for a brain MRI.

Dollar-wise, WGH’s list price (including radiologist reading) for a brain MRI (without contrast), is $4,666; Everett Clinic charges under $1,300 for  a savings of over $3,300. My report also lists an Oregon provider that charges only $485. Check it out! Even for a series of three knee X-rays, prices ranged from $65 to over $450 with WGH as usual being on the high end.

Prior to publishing these comparisons, I shared them with CEO Tom Tomasino, and offered him space (simultaneously) on my website for his explanation or justification, but he wouldn’t even acknowledge my emails or voice message. Transparency and accountability have never been WGH’s strong suits.

Given that WGH recently reported 62,160 lab visits and 30,789 diagnostic imaging visits annually, I’d say that a whole lot of Islanders are getting ripped off big time! My advice: Shop around.

Rob Born


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