Hospital prices drop, vary widely

Hospital prices fell slightly in September and have risen only modestly over the last year, reported AHA News Now.

Hospital wholesale prices dropped 1 percent last month, and have advanced only 2.4 percent since September 2011, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They rose 1.6 percent in August.

Despite the drop, hospital prices still vary widely, and it remains extraordinarily difficult to determine how much a facility in a certain area charges for a specific procedure, reported the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

The hospital pricing trend for September was deeper than the healthcare sector as a whole, where prices dropped an average of 0.5 percent. Of the eight sector areas charted by the BLS, only one--residential facilities for those with mental health issues--rose. That went up a total of 0.4 percent.

Nursing care facilities, medical and diagnostic laboratories, and blood and organ banks saw no price changes. Physician offices and home healthcare saw tiny price drops.

According to BLS data, the entire healthcare sector's prices have risen 1.8 percent for the year.

For more information:
- read the AHA News Now brief
- check out the BLS data
- read the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article