For consumers, cost is of paramount concern for any item or service. Quality, convenience and a host of other factors are obviously important, too. That said, what determines the cost of a plastic surgical procedure?
First there are the fixed costs, like, for instance, the current price of breast implants. Variability in cost depends in part on volume of use, so a high volume facility may be able to negotiate a price as low as $350.00 per implant, where a low volume facility pays $450.00. Other fixed costs depend on geography. Rent in New York City, for example, is much higher than it is in Pittsfield Massachusetts.
Then there is the cost of employing health care workers. The professionals chosen to participate in a procedure greatly influence its cost. If only a medical assistant and a surgeon are working, the cost will be small, compared to a full OR staff including a nurse, OR tech and anesthesiologist. These costs are clearly related to quality and safety.
Costs most consumers are unaware of can account for the greatest variability: Hospitals cost about 10 times what Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASC’s) cost, although both are subject to similar regulatory bodies and require similar staffing. ASC’s have been proven to be as safe or safer than hospitals, and are much more comfortable.
Finally, the price a surgeon sets for a service is sometimes elevated to imply a better product, akin to a luxury item wearing a high price to make it appear luxurious. This “luxury” effect is particularly rampant in places like Manhattan.
If cost is as important to you as safety, think high-volume ASC, away from a big city, with a well-trained reputable surgeon who is not trying to impress you with astronomical fees.