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Don't Believe Everything You Read

Aug 2, 2013, 12:22 PM, Posted by Pam S. Dickson

Close up of a mans hand in surgery

Does anybody commute to work anymore without passing by a huge billboard promoting world-class health care at a nearby hospital or surgicenter?  I know I see enough of them to have become pretty calloused to their messages.  But then, I don’t need health care right now.

What if I did?  Could I count on these extravagant advertisements to give me good guidance about where to seek care?

Unfortunately, the answer is probably not.

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Sorting Out the Meaning of Hospital Pricing Disparities

May 21, 2013, 12:57 PM, Posted by Susan Dentzer

Susan Dentzer Susan Dentzer: Toward a Healthier America

What does U.S. health care have in common with an exotic international bazaar? The prices at either one are almost never posted, whether for a heart bypass operation or an antique rug. And the final price will almost certainly have little to do with the seller’s opening bid.

The nature of the U.S. medical bazaar was laid out earlier this month when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the prices billed to Medicare by more than 3,300 hospitals for 100 of the most common conditions or procedures. Not only was there wide variation in what hospitals charged, but there was also considerable variation in what Medicare actually paid—even though  hospital payment rates have been set prospectively, based on nearly 800 so-called diagnosis related groups (DRGs) for 30 years.

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