Private insurers pay wide range of prices to hospitals

Private insurers pay a wide range of prices for healthcare services at different hospitals--all of which are higher than Medicare payment rates, according to a new study by the Center for Studying Health System Change. The study was conducted across 13 U.S. metropolitan areas with large amounts of autoworkers, including: Ann Arbor, Mich.; Cleveland; Indianapolis; Detroit; Kansas City; St. Louis; Cocomo, Ind., Toledo, Ohio; Lansing, Mich.; Flint, Mich.; Youngstown, Ohio; Buffalo, N.Y.; and Warren, Mich. Hospital prices within these communities for private insurers were about one-and-a-half times the Medicare rates for inpatient care and twice the Medicare outpatient rates, reported FierceHealthFinance.

"The dramatic variation in prices from one hospital to another points to the significant market power of certain hospitals to command high prices, even in markets with a dominant insurer," study coauthor Chapin White said in a statement. The study also found large price differences within specific communities. The most expensive hospital normally was paid 60 percent more than the least expensive hospital for identical inpatient services. The variation was even more pronounced for outpatient services, with the most expensive hospital typically paid nearly twice as much as the least expensive. >> Read the article at FierceHealthFinance