It's Official: Hospital Bills Make No Sense
$5K for a procedure in one hospital costs $223K in another
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2013 9:55 AM CDT
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The charges on US hospital bills often seem entirely random and inconsistent, and now we know why: they probably are. The government has released data today on what 3,300 different hospitals charge for the 100 most common procedures. The results show massive variation, reports the Washington Post. One DC hospital charges $115,000 to put a patient on a ventilator, while another in the same city charges $53,000. Nationwide it's even crazier: $5,304 for a joint replacement at one hospital in Oklahoma compared with $223,373 for one in California.

Some hospitals cited in the data say their bills are higher because they're teaching hospitals or have a sicker and older patient base, the New York Times reports. But a Medicare official says the variation is still too large to fully account for the discrepancy. As Time thoroughly exposed earlier this year, charges for different procedures are set by a hospital master list called a "chargemaster," which are wildly inconsistent across different hospitals and often bear little resemblance to what Medicare says are their true costs. "If you’re charging 10% more or 20% more than what it costs to deliver the service, that’s an acceptable profit margin," says a hospital finance expert. "Charging 400 percent more than what it costs has no rational basis in it at all."

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Lea
May 9, 2013 8:18 AM CDT
These hospitals all over charge and then call themselves non-profit. What a joke. Then our gov. lets them get away with it. Here in River Grove il. it is not just the mortarge co. that is making people lose their homes. Its our outragest property taxes. We have manly small homes here ( single dewlings ) How can you pay about $583. to $ 833. a month in property taxes plus a mortarge payment. Thats why we are losing our homes. Because of the property taxes. Thats in the suburbs of Cook County. I wrote Quinn about it and he passed the buck. I'm 70 yrs old and my taxes are taking almost 4 months of my income. I will be taxed out soon.
793tango
May 8, 2013 8:21 PM CDT
My mom worked for doctors all my life and toward the end she had to wade through piles of peperwork for her older sister who was dying of cancer. She'd tell me about the insanity of hospital billing and how she'd have to go over everything line by line and weed out things that had no use or connection to her sisters care (like $500.00 for pregnancy tests...on a 79 year old woman???) and argue it out with the hospital billing department.
vlad
May 8, 2013 4:33 PM CDT
the rational basis for charging 400% more is being a greedy piece of crap ! nothing wrong with profit , but that kind of profit is obscene ! the funeral industry is guilty of the same thing !