There was a fascinating article posted by Matt Dixon in the Florida Times Union several days ago. The Times Union researched and did a comparison of what Northeast Florida hospitals charge for porocedures. He found out that it can vary by thousands of dollars. To treat a Medicare patient with chest pain, Orange Park Medical Center charges almost $36,000 ” more than three times the cost at the Mayo Clinic. But when the federal government sends payment, the Hospital Corporation of America-owned hospital (OPMC) gets paid $3,300. It’s a far cry from their listed charge and $1,000 less than the Mayo Clinic will receive for the same procedure, according to data released this month by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services showing the hospital charge and the rate Medicare paid for the 100 most popular procedures in 2011. Analysts and hospital leaders say the disparities result from a system where charges are often just a jumping-off point for negotiations with insurers, and reimbursements vary depending on how sick a patient is and whether hospitals have teaching programs, higher overhead or offer more charity care. The charges rarely have a direct impact on what patients pay, and the charges for the same procedures vary widely among hospitals in Northeast Florida. Based on a Times-Union analysis of 15 of the most common procedures in Florida, Memorial Hospital and Orange Park Medical Center, the two for-profit hospitals owned by HCA, most often listed the highest charge, though they typically received the lowest payment back from Medicare and Medicare. Mayo Clinic consistently set the lowest charge and got the highest reimbursement.
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