Hospital prices rise in vast majority of U.S. cities

Eighty-two percent of cities or geographic regions in the United States have seen their hospital prices rise between 2011 and 2013, according to NJ.com

That's based on data compiled by the website and healthcare price transparency service BetterDoctor.com. "People generally use the healthcare facilities around where they live, so living in a city where hospital costs are under control is extremely important," BetterDoctor explained on its website.

According to its list, areas in Ohio and Massachusetts had the five biggest hospital price increases. Canton, Ohio, led with an increase of more than 39 percent. That was far higher than in Springfield, Massachusetts, where prices rose 18.4 percent.

Hospital price increases are nothing new to healthcare. They did drop modestly last January, for the first time since the federal government began keeping records nearly 20 years ago.

And there is some rationale as to why states such as Massachusetts have seen the biggest price increases among their hospitals: A recent study indicated that facilities that charged more made more money. 

However, there were 32 cities or geographic areas where prices actually decreased during the two-year time period. Casper, Wyoming, led the pack, with a price decrease of 8.3 percent. Morristown, New Jersey, was second with a drop of 4.4 percent. It was one of two cities in New Jersey that saw decreases, although a significant proportion of the group was in Southern states.

Some providers, such the New Jersey-based Atlantic Health System, have made efforts to keep prices low, according to NJ.com.

"We've been watching these efforts, and although they don't happen overnight, they're really begin to start taking hold," David Shulkin, a vice president with the Atlantic Health System, told the publication. "We're finally starting to see it bear fruit."

To learn more:
- read the NJ.com article 
- check out the BetterDoctor.com list

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