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March 18, 1992

Price of TechnologyA Blind Spot

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology, Marshfield (Wis) Clinic.

JAMA. 1992;267(11):1516-1518. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480110092040

WE ARE responsible for knowing the risks and benefits of the care we recommend. But we often do not know the price, especially for new technology. Researchers usually report new technology in our journals without mention of the expected charges. Patients are seldom concerned with the price of technology when the charges are covered by third-party payers.

There are problems with price. It varies with marketplace, regulations, and negotiations. It may not reflect the true value of a service. It does not reflect the nonmedical expenses of seeking care, indirect costs of morbidity, or the intangible costs of suffering.1 Despite these problems, we need to consider the charges that are used to measure health care expenses and transfers of wealth in our society. Others certainly do it for us.2 Debate over payment for health services begins when we know the charges.

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