Suburban hospitals may deliver less costly, higher-quality care

Quality checklist.

The nearest hospital to a patient considering a major surgical procedure may not be the best one in terms of cost and quality.

That's the conclusion of FairChex, a Canadian healthcare pricing firm that recently released a whitepaper on some of the options for healthcare services for New York City residents.

Many New Yorkers may want to avoid some of the city's most prestigious teaching hospitals for a coronary bypass procedure, according to the whitepaper. Here's why:

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  • Mount Sinai Hospital, for example, charged nearly $89,000 for the procedure, was paid more than $59,100 by Medicare and ranked in the top 3 percent of the nation's hospitals in terms of clinical quality for the procedure and the top 5 percent statewide.
  • New York-Presbyterian Hospital charged more than $89,000, was paid more than $59,400, but ranked only in the top 22 percent nationally and in the top third statewide in terms of quality.
  • Beth Israel Medical Center and Bellevue Medical Center also charged more and fared even worse in terms of quality rankings.

Journalist Steven Brill, who gained recognition in recent years in reporting on the price opacity of hospitals and the way they treated their patients, praised New York-Presbyterian for the care he received to repair his aortic aneurysm and suggested that patients going elsewhere might receive inferior care.

Alternatively, FairChex concluded that some suburban facilities, such as St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, New York or Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in New Jersey are better options:

  • St. Francis charged $63,377, was paid $42,251 by Medicare and was in the top 1 percent nationally and top 5 percent statewide in terms of quality rankings.
  • Englewood charged $68,470, was paid $45,647 by Medicare and was also in the top 1 percent nationwide and top 5 percent statewide.

“The U.S. healthcare system has never provided patients the information on cost and quality needed to make informed decisions, which is why we continue to see tens of thousands of patients each year going to more expensive, lower-quality hospitals when there may be far better options operating virtually next door,” said Benjamin Tabah, FairChex's managing director, in a statement to the press.

The FairChex white paper seems to dovetail with a 2013 TransUnion study suggesting that a large number of Americans rely on price transparency to make care decisions. However, more recent studies have concluded that such transparency is rarely if ever available.

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