New release of data collected by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on the price of hospital charges from across the nation may make a few eyebrows go up. The data has never been easily accessible by the public but now as part of President Obama’s administrations efforts to make health care more affordable and accessible, it has now been released. This change to transparency in medical procedure pricing has revealed large discrepancies in what hospitals charge across the nation.
What The CMS Data Contains
The new report issued by CMS gives a breakdown of prices for common inpatient procedures performed at hospitals all across the country. The top 100 procedures are listed from over 3,000 hospitals that receive Medicare payments. The first report is from 2011 and can be accessed online at CMS.gov.
What will make those eyebrows go up is the difference in costs from one hospital to the next, with little rhyme or reason to it all. For example, one hospital charges $127,000 for a permanent pacer maker, yet another only charges $66,000 for the same procedure. A new lower limb could cost an average of $117,000 at one hospital yet only cost $25,600 somewhere else. The difference in charges does not seem to be geographic, just randomly more or less from one place to the next.
The report also lists the average actual payout for these procedures, which is interesting as well. One place may charge less for the procedure yet receives a larger average payout than another hospital that charges much more. The payout is only a fraction of the billed charge, often less than 20% of the bill.
Continue reading ›