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St. Charles welcomes hospital cost comparisons

By Alicia Inns
Published On: May 10 2013 11:31:09 AM CDT
Updated On: May 10 2013 12:05:38 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Alicia Inns talks with St. Charles officials about varying costs of the same procedures among different hospitals, as a new federal report finds sharp differences across the country.

BEND, Ore. -

A new report released by the federal government reveals what hospitals charge for the most common in-patient procedures.

St. Charles Bend and Redmond were on the list of 3,000 hospitals.

When a patient arrives at St. Charles Bend for a major joint replacement, he or she faces an official price tag of $50,146.

Less than 20 miles away, St. Charles Redmond charges almost $4,000 less.

Why the difference?

"Our charge masters are the same throughout the health system, so it's really a reflection on the acuity of the patient and how their case went and how much recovery time they needed," said Steve Strang, director of performance analytics at St. Charles.

Strang says these numbers merely reflect a case-by-case situation. The joint replacement surgery, for example, happened in Bend 472 times in 2011 -- but just 40 times in Redmond.

More patients, officials say, brings a greater chance for higher costs.

"It's more patient-specific than that, and depends more on how their case is going," Strang said.

If you suffer a heart attack or stroke, it will cost you $17,000 at the hospital in Bend and just $15,000 in Redmond.

The prices vary only slightly if you experience a kidney or urinary tract infection.

Some consumer advocates argue the report is meant to shame hospitals by showing how arbitrary the costs seem to be.

Strang puts it a little differently.

"This is great -- this is a step in the right direction. We would love to have more transparency," Strang said. "Having these prices out now will have an impact on the marketplace and will be a wake-up call."

According to the report, St. Charles charged the same or a little below the national average for 97 of the 100 procedures.

If you'd like to see the prices associated with the other 3,000 hospitals across the country, it's posted on the centers for medicare and medicaid services website at cms.gov.

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