KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Medicare Data Highlight Variations In Hospital Charges, Increased Costs For Common Ailments

The data, released Monday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, include 2012 prices for the most common inpatient stays at 3,376 hospitals.

The New York Times: Hospital Charges Surge For Common Ailments, Data Shows
Charges for some of the most common inpatient procedures surged at hospitals across the country in 2012 from a year earlier, some at more than four times the national rate of inflation, according to data released by Medicare officials on Monday. While it has long been known that hospitals bill Medicare widely varying amounts — sometimes many multiples of what Medicare typically reimburses — for the same procedure, an analysis of the data by The New York Times shows how much the price of some procedures rose in just one year’s time (Creswell, Fink and Cohen, 6/2).

The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: Further Evidence Of How Weird Hospital Pricing Is
The federal government last year for the first time released the prices that hospitals charge for the 100 most common procedures. The Medicare data from the 2011 fiscal year demonstrated wild variations in what hospitals charge the health-care program for seniors – for example, a joint replacement could be priced anywhere between $5,300 and $223,000 depending on the facility (Millman, 6/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Hospitals' Prices For Common Services On The Rise
Federal data released Monday show an increase in the average price hospitals charge to treat common conditions, with vascular procedures and chest-pain treatment showing some of biggest upticks. The numbers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services include 2012 prices at 3,376 hospitals for the 100 most common inpatient stays by Medicare patients. It is the second year the agency has released such data, and it reflects $57 billion in payments from Medicare, the federal insurance program for the elderly and disabled (Armour, Weaver and Beck, 6/2).

More on the data -

CQ Healthbeat:  Medicare Releases Trove of Claims Data Showing Regional Variations
Medicare officials on Monday released volumes of 2012 claims data featuring interactive "dashboards" permitting analysts to compare how per capita spending varies down to the county level and pinpointing the sharply varying burden of chronic diseases in the Medicare population across different parts of the United States. The geographic variation dashboard shows that per capita Medicare spending in Florida's Miami-Dade County totaled $14,905 in 2012. But at the southern tip of the state, in Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, it stood at $7,678. Statewide, per capita Medicare costs averaged $10,728 (Reichard, 6/2).

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