HHS Reveals Severe Pricing Gap at Nation’s Hospitals

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shutterstock_137163716So, how much do health care procedures cost, anyway?

Most of us don’t actually know how much a hospital or other health care provider is billing for procedures because much of the cost is paid by insurers (after you’ve paid premiums, anyway).

Claiming to want to make costs more transparent, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the results of a study that breaks down what hospitals across the country charge for different procedures.

The findings are a little stunning, reports MarketWatch.

Huge Price Gaps in Hospital Billing

Along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, HHS looked at pricing in more than 3,000 hospitals nationwide. Some of the results include the fact that the same inpatient joint replacement that costs $5,300 in Oklahoma costs $223,000 in California.

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While some consumers might decide that it makes sense to see such a big gap between costs in the rural Midwest and the swanky West, what doesn’t make sense is the fact that there are gaps between hospital charges in the same geographic areas. MarketWatch reports that inpatient treatment of heart failure costs between $9,000 and $51,000 — depending on which hospital in Jackson, Miss. that you choose to visit.

One of the reasons that these pricing gaps are garnering so much interest is the fact that health care costs continue to rise. Some blame the fact that consumers are removed from directly paying for their health care. If consumers knew more about costs (and if costs were more transparent), and if consumers had to take more responsibility for costs, the argument is that health care costs would moderate.

What’s clear, though, is that there is no set price for many health care procedures.

What do you think of health care procedure price gaps?

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Miranda is a freelance writer and professional blogger specializing in financial topics. Her work has appeared in numerous media, online and offline. Her blog is Planting Money Seeds.