Government Releases Hospital Charges, Cites Transparency

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A new report this week is revealing for the first time the varying charges of some of the most common hospital procedures.

The numbers give consumers a prospective and transparency when it comes to the costs of health care in our country.

The numbers were released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. These are the prices that the hospitals ask for, however, that number is never actually received.

"The numbers begin to give us an understanding of how much the hospitals charge, particularly the uninsured," said Perry Bryant with West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.

The numbers are best described in Lehman's Terms as a "sticker price." They are a starting point for negotiations with insurance companies.

"We should understand they have some relevance we should shop around to find out what the highest quality is for the lowest cost and use part of this, those charges as a part of that evaluation," explained Bryant.

Bryant says there are several legitimate reasons why there is a disparity in the numbers among hospitals. For example they are teaching institutions, the hospitals have trauma centers or a special Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

But Bryant says there are other "perplexing" reasons why hospitals with similar missions have such a drastic price difference.

Bryant suggests that people who have competing hospitals in their own particular insurance network look at the charges, consider who offers the better deal, along with the ideas and professionals they are looking for and make a decision that is best for them. went in-depth to compare numbers in our region by selecting six major hospitals in our region: Charleston Area Medical Center, Cabell Huntington Hospital, King's Daughters Medical Center, Southern Ohio Medical Center, Logan Regional Medical Center and St. Mary's Medical Center.

Then, six common procedures in our region were selected.

Treatment for heart failure, hypertension, pacemaker implementation, poisoning & toxic effects of drugs, and major joint replacement.

Click on the attached document to see how the numbers broke down locally.

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