Recently, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services put out a database of what hospitals charge for the 100 most common inpatient procedures billed to Medicare. It spans 163,065 individual charges recorded at 3,337 hospitals located in 306 metropolitan areas. And it showed a lot of disparity. A patient at Bayonne Hospital Center in New Jersey requiring treatment for COPD had a price tag of $99,690. In the Bronx, at the the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, the charge was only $7,044 for the same treatment. The Huffington Post and most every media outlet did their little dog-and-pony show about. The Huff Post article said:
Administration officials said they offered up the data with hopes that its release would administer a market corrective, forcing hospitals to take greater heed of competitors while arming ordinary people with information they could use to seek a better deal. The data could also spur health insurance companies to negotiate with hospitals to seek lower prices.
You can see that the system is a mess but I don’t want to help health insurance companies negotiate lower prices because they will KEEP the profit! I think transparency would be good to bring prices down but these ARE NOT the prices insurance pays now. Those are still hidden. An appendectomy in ONE hospital may have 10 different price tags depending on who gets billed. The only one really getting screwed is the self-pay victim, er…patient. Those are the prices that need to be published so that those people with high-deductible plans (the way of the future and the only way to save our healthcare system) can pay a reasonable price. Right now, no one negotiates for them!