Medicare Data Shows Hospital Fees Vary Dramatically

12:46 PM, May 9, 2013   |    comments
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By Brian Tumulty
Gannett Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Hospitals in New York often charged vastly different fees for the same treatment in 2011, a Medicare database released Wednesday shows.

WEB EXTRARead the Medicare Database here

The database covers the 100 most common reasons people are hospitalized, including chest pain, pneumonia and lower-joint-replacement surgery.

Patients suffering chest pain usually drive to the nearest hospital, but depending on where you live in New York the average covered charges vary significantly.

In the Rochester area, there was a $265 difference in 2011 between the $7,519 in average covered charges for a chest pain patient at Rochester General Hospital and the $7,784 charged by Strong Memorial Hospital.

In the White Plains area of Westchester County, average covered charges for a patient discharged after treatment for chest pain was $12,743 at White Plains Hospital Center and $23,048 at Westchester Medical Center in nearby Valhalla. That's a difference of $10,305.

Medina Memorial Hospital in Orleans County was at the low end, with $3,481 in average covered charges for treatment of chest pain. Others at the low end included the TLC Network in Gowanda located south of Buffalo ($4,568) and Our Lady of Lourdes Memorial Hospital in Binghamton ($6,038).

Westchester Medical Center was at the high end, as was Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx ($23,857).

Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie reported average charges of $17,991, and Sound Shore Hospital in New Rochelle reported $8,287,

The database released Wednesday covers hospital-specific charges for the more than 3,000 hospitals that receive Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System payments for the top 100 most frequently billed discharges, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The agency said the data covers almost 7 million patient discharges. About 40 percent of Medicare-paid patient discharges were not included. Hospitals treating fewer than 11 patients for a particular diagnosis were excluded from the database.

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