Some US hospitals charge 10 times the cost of services, study finds

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 16 June 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h3285
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

Some US hospitals charge patients more than 10 times what Medicare pays for the same services, a new study has found.

For the study, published in the June issue of Health Affairs, Ge Bai from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, and Gerard Anderson from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, compared what hospitals list as their charges for services with what are known as “Medicare allowable costs.”1

Looking at a sample of 4483 hospitals, the researchers found that in 2012 hospital charges were on average 3.4 times the Medicare allowable cost, meaning that when a hospital incurred $100 (£64; €89) of Medicare allowable costs, the hospital charged $340. When ranked based on how much they charged, the 10% of hospitals that charged the lowest had a charge …

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