Hospital Charges Surge for Common Ailments

Charges for some of the most common inpatient procedures surged at hospitals across the country in 2012 from a year earlier, some at more than four times the national rate of inflation, according to data released by Medicare officials on Monday.

Charges for chest pain, for instance, rose 10 percent to an average of $18,505 in 2012, from $16,815 in 2011. Average hospital charges for digestive disorders climbed 8.5 percent to nearly $22,000, from $20,278 in 2011.

In 2012, hospitals charged more for every one of 98 common ailments that could be compared to the previous year. For all but seven, the increase in charges exceeded the nation’s 2 percent inflation rate for that year, according to The Times’s analysis. (NYT)

Comments (13)

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  1. Jessica J. says:

    Although it is evident that hospital charges have surged for common ailments over the past few years, what is the cause of the surge? Is Obamacare/Affordable Care Act (ACA) to blame?

    • John R. Graham says:

      Here is the thing: The relationship between what hospitals charge and what they are paid is diverging, not converging.

      That means that the path to price transparency is becoming more difficult to identify, not easier.

      Whatever the federal government has been doing, it has made transaction prices more opaque.

      • Dale says:

        “That means that the path to price transparency is becoming more difficult to identify, not easier.”

        There is the cause of the surge.

  2. Laura says:

    Has the number of cases treated increased as well? Im not sure if those numbers are significant, just curious..
    also, what about the average costs for non- common ailments?

    • Mitch says:

      I think a good number to look at would be what proportion of total healthcare costs incurred is made up of these common ailments. It might put these increasing costs into perspective to better understand what/if we need/can do to keep these costs down.

  3. Buddy says:

    This is what happens when prices for health care become less and less transparent. I wonder what is causing the increase. Is it the lack of reimbursements or plain greed?

  4. Thomas says:

    There is a serious spending problem in health care, and its obvious why. A patient can go in for a procedure with no idea the cost.

    • Matthew says:

      Well they will at least have the idea that it will be unaffordable.

      • James M. says:

        This is what health insurance is supposed to fix. But when people are paying high premiums and still have a high deductible and limited network of where they can receive care, that is not a good deal.

    • Miller says:

      I agree Thomas, patients have no incentives to shop around for lowest prices/better quality. Indeed, both government and insurance function to remove patients and doctors from truly caring about costs.

      That’s why HSAs are the fastest way to improve costs, and overall better health outcomes!

  5. Big truck joe says:

    Charges are vastly different from actual reimbursement. Your doctor charges your insurance $100 per visit but is only paid by said insurance $60. Hospitals are increasing their “charge” amounts for those few Cadillac plans who play full amount in expectation that Obamacare is going to slash reimbursement.

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