Hospitals in Connecticut charge vastly different amounts of money for the same procedure – sometimes triple the price — according to data released Wednesday by federal Medicare officials.
The cost discrepancies are detailed in a report by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which for the first time is making data available to the public on prices for the 100 most common medical procedures. The report shows what hospitals charge to Medicare, as well as the lower amounts that they collect from the government.
In Connecticut, prices for most procedures varied widely among hospitals. For a cardiac pacemaker implant, for example, Yale-New Haven Hospital’s average bill was $85,902, while Manchester Memorial Hospital billed a low of $22,096. Stamford Hospital billed $25, 493 to treat simple pneumonia, while Charlotte Hungerford Hospital’s average bill was $8,177.
Similarly, for a lower joint replacement, the average price charged to Medicare ranged from a high of $72,393 at Greenwich Hospital, to $23,063 at Charlotte Hungerford.
Medicare does not actually pay out the amount a hospital charges, but instead uses an elaborate reimbursement system to pay hospitals for treating certain conditions. Private insurers also do not pay the full charge, instead negotiating payments with hospitals. Patients who have insurance usually are not affected by what hospitals charge.
In releasing the data, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said transparency in pricing was a step towards empowering consumers.
“Currently, consumers don’t know what a hospital 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,” Sebelius said. The new data “will help fill that gap.”
The data is available by clicking here.
Brittany Everett, an intern from Northeastern University, contributed to this story.