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How Much Do The Nation’s Pre-Eminent Hospitals Cost Medicare?

Can you cut health care spending without undermining the quality of care? It’s a major concern as Medicare prepares to prod hospitals to provide medical care more efficiently by giving bonuses to those whose patients cost less and taking money away from places that send the government higher bills.

Last week, Capsules culled through the Medicare data to identify the hospitals whose patients cost Medicare the most, from the three days before admission to a month afterward. Here is an admittedly unscientific first pass at how the nation’s best-regarded hospitals rate in terms of their patients’ Medicare spending.

Kaiser Health News looked at the 16 hospitals that U.S. News includes in its widely followed “Best Hospitals’ Honor Roll,” which is calculated based on a mix of quality indicators and reputation surveys. (One hospital, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, was omitted because Medicare didn’t provide figures for Maryland hospitals.)

As a group, the average cost to Medicare for a patient at a U.S. News top hospital was $17,808, or 1 percent below the national median spending of $17,988. The least expensive of these hospitals had patients who, on average, cost Medicare 5 percent below the median (represented as a ratio of 0.95). The most expensive hospital had patients who, on average, cost Medicare 3 percent above the median (1.03).

  • New York-Presbyterian Hospital (New York, N.Y.): $17,089 (0.95)
  • University Of Washington Medical Center (Seattle, Wash.): $17,089 (0.95)
  • Mayo Clinic St. Mary’s Hospital (Rochester, Minn.): $17,269 (0.96)
  • Mount Sinai Hospital (New York, N.Y.): $17,269 (0.96)
  • Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center (Los Angeles, Calif.): $17,628 (0.98)
  • UCSF Medical Center (San Francisco, Calif.): $17,628 (0.98)
  • Duke University Hospital (Durham, N.C.): $17,628 (0.98)
  • Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, Ohio): $17,808 (0.99)
  • Barnes Jewish Hospital (Saint Louis, Mo.): $17,808 (0.99)
  • Vanderbilt University Hospital (Nashville, Tenn): $17,808 (0.99)
  • Stanford Hospital (Stanford, Calif.): $17,808 (0.99)
  • UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside (Pittsburgh, Penn.): $18,168 (1.01)
  • University Of Michigan Health System (Ann Arbor, Mich.): $18,168 (1.01)
  • Brigham And Women’s Hospital (Boston, Mass.): $18,348 (1.02)
  • Hospital Of University Of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Penn.): $18,348 (1.02)
  • Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, Mass.): $18,528 (1.03)

None were outliers among the 3,346 hospitals that Medicare evaluated. In fact, more than a quarter of the nation’s hospitals were more costly than all of the “honor roll” hospitals and another quarter of the hospitals were less expensive than all of the “honor roll” hospitals.

Let us know what you think about Medicare’s Spending Per Hospital Patient ratings in a comment below.