Do Higher Prices Equal Higher Quality?

The philosophy “you get what you pay for” is ingrained in our culture, and we use this logic every day when making buying decisions. This isn’t surprising, especially as this kind of thinking often leads us to the correct conclusion. For example, who can disagree that a $10 hamburger from your favorite restaurant just tastes better than a $2 hamburger from a fast-food joint. Or how about a Tesla? There’s a reason that it can go from 0 to 60 in just under 2 seconds! While our thinking about price and quality may be confirmed regularly, there are also exceptions. Is the $4 bottled water at the airport really that much better than the same brand at a local grocery store.

We may understand that price and quality do not always correlate, but we are still persuaded by clever marketers to fall for it. In fact, marketing researchers have discovered that when consumers have no other information, they will automatically assume that a higher priced product is simply better. And when a product is priced too low, consumers will often assume that it must be inferior. That’s why companies will sometimes charge more for a product they would normally sell at a lower price! This is known as “prestige” pricing, and it may partially explain why Nike makes billions of dollars each year in footwear sales.

What about healthcare? With our own health on the line, it’s certainly understandable that we would assume higher prices equal higher quality. But according to recent studies, there is no distinguishable relationship between the cost and quality in healthcare . For example, medical procedures done at a surgery center often cost 45-60% less than in a hospital setting, while their quality scores are often the same or even higher than many hospitals. In addition to paying attention to the different prices for similar services, savvy healthcare consumers should also do their homework in other ways. For example, there are reputable websites with patient-verified reviews, including Healthgrades.com, RateMDs.com, and Vitals.com.

At Zion HealthShare, our new Medical Advocacy team can help take guesswork out of the equation; they are experts in locating high quality providers at the most affordable prices. For example, the Medical Advocacy team recently assisted a member with scheduling knee surgery (ACL repair). While the market price was $30,000, our team helped locate a provider who charged $17,715, saving the community over $12,000. So while the familiar adage “you get what you pay for” is often true, it can also pay to challenge your assumptions!

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