A lipid panel is one of the most basic blood tests in modern medicine. This is not a procedure where some hospitals are really great at lipid panels and some are terrible. "What we were trying to see is, when we get down the simplest, most basic form of medicine, how much variation is there in price?" says Renee Hsia, an associate professor at University of California, San Francisco who published the price data in a recent study. For this research, published in August in the British Medical Journal, Hsia and her colleagues compiled reams of data about how much more than 100 hospitals charged for basic blood work.