State's hospital costs vary wildly

Ability (or lack thereof) to manage expenses, "varying overhead" and technology investments are just some of the reasons rolled out by hospital executives in Oregon for widely differing costs of procedures between hospitals, reports The Oregonian. Recent postings by heath officials on the state's price comparison website show that some procedures can cost as much as three times more at one hospital compared to another. 

Ironically, Oregon began posting hospital prices online in 2007 to drive down costs. State health officials had hoped that competition between hospitals would lead to more even prices across the board. 

Instead, the newspaper reports, huge price gaps remain. For example, in the Portland area alone, a coronary artery bypass with an angiography will cost a patient $41,548 at Tuality Community Hospital; at Providence Portland Medical Center--which is part of one of the largest hospital systems in the state--the procedure runs $66,368. 

Aside from multisystem hospitals that are able to name their own prices--a setup which Tim Fleischmann, chief financial officer for Tuality, calls a "monopoly"--hospitals with little or no competition also tended to boast higher costs. 

"For the average consumer, and even for insurers, it makes no difference because hospitals are going to charge what they want to charge," Jeff Heatherington, president of health plan FamilyCare Inc. told The Oregonian. "You really do not have a competitive market for hospitals anywhere in the state."

To learn more:
- read this article in The Oregonian
- check out the state's price comparison website for hospitals