KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Medicare Reveals What Hospitals Charge For Many Procedures

News outlets continue plumbing newly released federal data that details for the first time what hospitals charge for some of the most common in-patient procedures.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: The Dramatic Difference: What A Hospital Charges Vs. What Medicare Pays
For the first time, the federal government has publicly shared what hospitals bill Medicare for the 100 most common diagnoses and treatments. The information shows hospitals across the country -- and across Alaska -- bill dramatically different prices for the same things (Feidt, 5/13).

Arizona Republic: Huge Differences In Hospital Billing, Data Show
The federal government this week shed some light on one of the health-care industry’s most closely held secrets: how much hospitals charge for the most common procedures. Medicare released data for charges and payments for the 100 most common inpatient procedures in 2011, revealing a dramatic variance among hospitals in metro Phoenix and across Arizona. The data also show that Arizona hospitals generally charge more than the U.S. average (Alltucker and Hansen, 5/10).

In California, a patient sues Kaiser Permanente after the insurer granted his request to see a specialist and then declined to pay for his treatment  --

Los Angeles Times: Patient Is Out Of Network, Out Of Luck
A worrisome abdominal pain drove Jalal Afshar to seek treatment last year at health care giant Kaiser Permanente. ... Kaiser granted his request to see a specialist in Arkansas. But it ultimately declined to pay for his treatment there. By June, Afshar said, Kaiser was arranging for hospice care so that he could die at home. Afshar, 58, refused to accept that. Despite Kaiser's stance, he went back to Arkansas for six months of stem-cell transplants, chemotherapy and other treatments that he says saved his life. Now he owes $2 million for his care and is suing the company in state court for breach of contract and unfair business practices (Terhune, 5/10).

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