May 8, 2013

Comparing What Hospitals Charge

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Hospital data

Hospitals in Oklahoma charge very different amounts for the same medical treatment, even within a city or community.

Now you can see what those variations are thanks to release of hospital data by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on what each hospital bills for common in-patient services.

The database allows you to select from up to 100 common types of medical conditions, then compare how much each hospital on average billed Medicare, and how much it was paid by Medicare, in 2011.

Rick Snyder, a vice president at the Oklahoma Hospital Association, said, “Hospitals use different approaches to setting their charges.” He added that hospitals rarely get from Medicare the full amount charged.

“Hospitals that have a higher percentage of uninsured people are typically going to have to recover costs, whether through the payment or the charge. It’s going to be reflected in shifting costs to insured patients,” Snider said. “Some hospitals have unprofitable services that is part of their mission … That’s going to be reflected in higher prices.”

One note in the database: In the drop-down menu for medical conditions, “CC” means complications and comorbidities, and “MCC” means major complications and comorbidities. Comorbidities is when two or more diseases exist at the same time.

  • Gerald Gustafson

    Steven Brill wrote a long article, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills are Killing Us” for Time magazine, March 3, 2013. His article is closely related to this database report. A must read for those interested in healthcare financing and costs.