Website reports Colorado hospital prices

The non-profit Center for Improving Value in Health Care has launched a website that allows residents of Colorado to compare hospital prices statewide, the Denver Post reported.

The data posted on the website, at www.comedprice.org, is based on the median prices paid by commercial insurers and Medicaid, and was derived from the state-mandated All Payer Claims Database, according to the Post. Currently, prices are only available for three major inpatient services: Joint replacement (knee and hip), vaginal birth and cesarean sections. Prices for procedures performed at ambulatory surgery centers and additional outpatient services, such as colonoscopies, will be posted before the end of the year, officials said.

There are wide price disparities among hospitals for the services provided. A knee replacement ranges from $25,000 to $50,000; a joint replacement varies from around $25,000 to $36,000; vaginal births range from $5,500 to $11,000; while  are priced between $10,000 and $18,000.

Among the most expensive providers are North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley (knee replacement) and Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs (vaginal birth), the Denver Business Journal reported.

Few hospitals post their prices online, and pricing is even harder to find on a state or geographical basis. Massachusetts is among the few states that has mandated price transparency for its providers. And as more and more health plans cost-shift to patients, it has put more hospitals in a bind. Only about a quarter of patients get any pre-cost estimates for their care prior to a procedure, while half report it is difficult to get any sort of price information, according to TransUnion. 

"While this phase is modest with a limited number of services available, it is significant because it marks the first time Coloradans can see real pricing information along with quality data across all commercial payers and Medicaid," Edie Sonn, the Center's acting chief executive officer, said in an announcement.

To learn more:
- read the Denver Post article
- here's the Denver Business Journal article
- check out the Center's announcement

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