Wednesday, May 8

Highly troubling: Report finds massive price-variations between hospitals for the same procedures

Why the hell should a pacemaker implant cost $127,038 at one hospital, and $66,030 at a hospital across the street?
"For the first time, the federal government will release the prices that hospitals charge for the 100 most common inpatient procedures. Until now, these charges have been closely held by facilities that see a competitive advantage in shielding their fees from competitors. What the numbers reveal is a health-care system with tremendous, seemingly random variation in the costs of services." …
"In downtown New York City, two hospitals 63 blocks apart varied by 321 percent in the prices they charged to treat complicated cases of asthma or bronchitis. One charged an average of $34,310; the other billed, on average, $8,159.
"Experts attribute the disparities to a health system that can set prices with impunity because consumers rarely see them — and rarely shop for discounts. Although the government has collected this information for years, it was housed in a bulky database that researchers had to pay to access."
One hospital charges $8,000 — another, $38,000 (Washington Post)