Upstate NY hospital posts charges, payments online

A small hospital in the Syracuse area has become the first provider in Central New York to post prices for its procedures, Syracuse.com reported.

Crouse Hospital posted the prices for more than 80 inpatient and about 150 outpatient procedures on its website.

In addition to the prices, the hospital also posted the number of cases it treated in 2013, the average length of stay for the procedure, and the average payment it receives from Medicare and Medicaid as well as from private payers. In many instances it shows the significant gap between hospital charges and what the facility actually receives in payment.

For pneumonia with complications, the estimated average price is $21,076, but Crouse receives $4,341 from Medicaid and less than $11,000 from either Medicare or private insurers. For a bowel resection, the average price is $33,604, but the hospital receives less than $20,000 from Medicare and $14,077 from private insurers.

Kelli Harris, Crouse's chief financial officer, told Syracuse.com that the decision to post prices was part of an effort to become more transparent, and that directives from both state and federal governments in the coming years would probably make it mandatory. It became law in Massachusetts earlier this year.

Crouse only posts its own charges. The cost of surgeon and anesthesiologist fees are not included.

The New York Health Department began posting median charge and cost data for more than 1,400 conditions on its own website late last year over the fierce opposition of the state's hospitals. In some instances, one hospital charged many times another hospital for exactly the same course of care or surgical procedure.

While Crouse's move toward transparency was welcome, Syracuse.com's editorial board noted, many patients are still bound by the dictates of their insurers, and often do not have time to shop around when they become seriously ill.

To learn more:
- read the Syracuse.com news article
- here's the Syracuse.com editorial board opinion piece
- check out Crouse Hospital's price list

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