Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released for the first time data detailing the 100 most common medical procedures in more than 3,000 hospitals nationwide, how much those hospitals charge Medicare for those services and how much Medicare actually pays.
The numbers show a wide disparity in healthcare costs around the country and, as I wrote in today’s Daily Mail, around the state. Hospital officials say the data does not provide an accurate representation of costs, however, because some hospitals treat much sicker patients, which drive up their average costs.
There’s a wealth of information in the Medicare data — it arrived in the largest Excel spreadsheet I’ve ever seen — so it took some time for me to get anything out of it. Lucky for you, I kept my spreadsheets and made some handy-dandy charts this morning.
The nine hospitals detailed in the graph are Beckley Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Cabell-Huntingon Hospital, Charleston Area Medical Center, Monongalia County General Hospital in Morgantown, Raleigh General Hospital in Beckley, St. Francis Hospital in Charleston, St. Mary’s Medical Center in Huntington, Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston and West Virginia University Hospitals in Morgantown.
The following bar graphs show the average Medicare charges for common medical procedures at nine prominent West Virginia hospitals. Those are the blue bars. The red bars show how much Medicare actually paid the hospitals for their services…and you’ll notice it’s not nearly as much as was charged.
You can click on the charts to see a larger version. This first graph shows Medicare charges and payments for patients with respiratory problems who were placed on a ventilator for less than 96 hours.
This graph shows the wide disparity in healthcare costs among hospitals. St. Mary’s Medical Center in Huntington charges nearly twice as much for a pacemaker installation than Charleston Area Medical Center.Here’s another example of the gap between charges and actual payments. Take a look at St. Francis Hospital. They charge Medicare, on average, $40,884 for a major joint replacement. They only receive about $11,607, however.
Perry Bryant, executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Healthcare, told me yesterday it is important the federal government is providing consumers with this information about healthcare costs, but said patients also should consider the quality of care when making healthcare decisions.
I think I’ll need a bigger chart.