Q: What’s It Cost? A: Way Too Much!

Americans know one thing for sure about healthcare: It costs too much. Now, one might assume this means Americans know how much healthcare actually costs. But they don’t. In a Wall Street Journal Online/ Harris Interactive Health-Care Poll, adults were asked to guess the price tag for various medical products and services, ranging from blood-pressure medication to ambulance trips. “For the most part, responses were all over the board,” and the majority of respondents were way off the mark in most instances. The chart here gives one example. (The actual average cost for a month of blood-pressure drugs: $93.) When it came to blood tests for cholesterol and such—something within the experience of many adults—the average guess ($143) was less than half the real average cost ($300). Respondents’ guesses at the cost of medications were too high. (For a month’s supply of anti-cholesterol statins, the average response was $156, vs. an actual cost of $109.) They tended to underestimate the cost of hospital procedures. The average guess was that a C-section birth would cost $6,145, vs. the true average cost of $13,500 (including the hospital and physician fees).