Confusing System and Staggering Cost Differences
When a patient arrives at Bayonne Hospital Center in New Jersey requiring treatment for the respiratory ailment known as COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, she faces an official price tag of $99,690.
Less than 30 miles away in the Bronx, N.Y., the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center charges only $7,044 for the same treatment, according to a recently released massive federal database of national health care costs.
Was it even on the news?
I guess with all of the focus on ObamaCare and the HealthCare.gov website and it's problems the government forgot to tell the public about one of the better projects they completed back in May of this year.
Did you hear me right?
Did I actually say that our government has a project that is beneficial to the general public like us (I am referring to you my faithful, fellow Survive55.com followers)?
Yes I did.
This new database underscores why, revealing the perplexing assortment of prices for medical care, with the details of bills seemingly unconnected to any understandable formulas.
Even within the same metropolitan area, hospitals charge prices that differ by staggering degrees for the same procedures.
People without health insurance pay vastly higher costs for care when less expensive options are often available
Virtually everyone who seeks health care winds up paying inflated prices in one form or another as these huge disparities in costing build even bigger inefficiencies throughout the market.
While the general consensus among health care experts has always been that the healthcare pricing system has been ambiguous and almost private, their evidence has been primarily anecdotal.
Hospitals have protected their price lists (documents known as "charge masters") as closely guarded
This database, released in May by the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, lays out for the first time and in voluminous detail how much the vast majority of American hospitals charge for the 100 most common inpatient procedures billed to Medicare.
The database -- which covers claims filed within fiscal year 2011 -- spans 163,065 individual charges recorded at 3,337 hospitals located in 306 metropolitan areas.
What you will find in a quick analysis of the data is a snapshot of an incoherent system in which prices for critical medical services vary seemingly at random -- from state to state, region to region and hospital to hospital.
Check out the map of New York City to the right from the Huffington Post.
They outline the costs of a single procedure: treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ( a common lung disease that effects smokers) across almost 50 hospital locations in the metropolitan area.
At the Bayonne Hospital Center in New Jersey costs were almost $100,000 where the same procedures and treatment were only billed out at $7,000 at the Lincoln Medical and Mental health Center in the Bronx.
That is a staggering difference and there is really no "honest" explanation for it.
What do you think?
The data could also spur health insurance companies to negotiate
with hospitals to seek lower prices.
"Our purpose for posting this information is to shine a much stronger light on these practices," said Jonathan Blum, director of the Center for Medicare.
"What drives some hospitals to have significantly higher charges than their geographic peers? I don't think anyone here has come up with a good economic argument."
The very fact that prices are now public may bring change, he added. "Hopefully, it will cause hospitals themselves to take a hard look at their charge-master practices and to ask hard questions of themselves as an industry why there is so much variation," he said.
I recommend you dig around a little bit and become familiar with it.
It could turn out saving you a lot of money in the long run.
We'll dig into some of the specifics a little deeper tomorrow.
Thanks for joining me................................................................