There has been extensive media coverage on the rising cost of medical care, but few examples showcase this like the newly released report form the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Medicaid first released their financial data last year, so this latest release is the first opportunity for the public to compare year-over-year price increases.
The data contains the amount each hospital charges for a service, as well as the rate — typically much lower — that Medicare will reimburse. Private insurers negotiate their own pricing structure with individual hospitals.
The report shows the average price hospitals charge for common conditions to be rapidly inflating. Vascular procedures and treatment for chest pain showed some of the largest increases in cost.
According to the Medicaid data, vascular procedures rose 10 percent, to $50,863 in 2012 from $46,399 in 2011. The cost of chest pain treatments rose 10 percent as well, $18,676 from about $17,000.
The reimbursement amount also varies greatly between different hospitals and different regions. For example, a Baltimore resident may pay $23,000 for a joint-replacement surgery, while in Contra Costa County, California, patients are charged an average of $133,000 for the same procedure.
The New York Times reports that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services are currently focusing on curbing prices and getting hospitals to report more information on costs to the public.
"We think this is a big deal. We think it's very important that people can have conversations about prevailing charges and variation in charges among hospitals," Niall Brennan, acting director of the Offices of Enterprise Management at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the source.
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