Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Same Procedures, Yet Big Differences in Medical Bills

 My opinion: Though we often complain about how medical billing is out of control in this country, it is difficult to do anything about it until we know where the money is going.  We now have information to compare bills between hospitals, but I think it we need to know the cost of each specific payment within a larger bill in order to get down to the basics of the problem.  But even with this data, we can make some inferences - for example, if the costs varies so much between hospitals, could this mean that many are inflating their prices, perhaps even the ones that cost less?  I also wonder if this will cause hospitals to compete with each other and advertise lower costs, just like supermarkets and retail stores.  But running the medical industry is indeed different that running a store - personally, I believe that the costs need to come down in another manner, where business tactics don't come into play.  Then again, how much of a business do hospitals deserve to be?  Feel free to comment.


Hospital bills for same service vary dramatically in Central New York, federal data shows

Federal data released today shows the average patient bill at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse is often significantly higher than other hospitals in the region. (David Lassman |

James T. Mulder | By James T. Mulder |

on May 08, 2013 at 10:35 AM, updated May 08, 2013 at 1:18 PM

Syracuse, N.Y. -- A bill for the same medical procedure can vary dramatically at Central New York hospitals, according to data released today by the federal government.
The average bill in 2011 for treating a patient with chest pain at Crouse Hospital was $8,057. Next door at Upstate University Hospital, the same thing cost $15,851, nearly twice as much.
Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca charged on average $23,800 in 2011 to replace a hip or another major joint. Upstate charged $39,551 for the same procedure. The bill at Oneida Healthcare Center was $38,721.
The data for 3,300 U.S. hospitals was released by the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It shows for the first time the sticker price charged by hospitals varies widely across the country and within the same communities.
"Currently, consumers don't know what a hosptial is charging them or their insurance company for a given procedure, like a knee replacement, or how much of a price difference there is at different hospitals, even within the same city," Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Health and Human Services secretary, said in a prepared statement. "This data ... will help fill that gap."
Making the billing data public is part of the Obama administration's effort to make the health care system more affordable, she said.


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