Re "Medical devices cheaper overseas" (Page A1, Aug. 4): This article may be technically correct, but it is misleading about the fees Sacramento area hospitals and surgeons receive for hip replacement surgery.
This article overstates the actual costs for hip replacement surgery. The list price of the implant in the story was $13,000, but no hospital ever pays list price. In the Sacramento area, the price a hospital pays for an implant is $3,000-$5,000.
No surgeon in this area receives anything close to $17,500. Medicare pays about one-tenth that amount. For that amount of money, the surgeon must provide the initial pre-op care, perform the surgery, and provide all care for three months after the surgery.
In the future, there will be a shortage of surgeons willing to perform the needed hip and knee replacements mainly due to the low reimbursement as compared to other types of surgery.
-- William Bargar, MD, Sacramento