New York state releases median hospital charges to improve transparency

New York state listed hospitals' median charges and costs for 1,400 conditions and procedures from 2009 to 2011 in an effort to make healthcare pricing more transparent, a move that was vehemently opposed by hospitals, the New York Times reported. The numbers revealed drastic differences in the cost of care--the median bill for a knee replacement at A. O. Fox Hospital in Oneonta was $1,376, but at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, the median bill came to $51,897 for the same operation. Healthcare systems claimed that consumers, especially those with health insurance, rarely pay full price for procedures, and that releasing the data could mislead them because it wasn't edited for deaths, transfers or aberrations. Sylvia Murphy, a spokeswoman for Vassar Brothers, said the median charge is more of a management tool for the system. "The median charge is never what we charge our patients," she said. "The charge would depend on your financial situation. Every case is different." Article

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