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Medicare Data Shows Significant Increase In Hospital Prices

2 June 2015, 11:32 am EDT By Rhodi Lee Tech Times
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The cost for a series of common procedures that hospitals ask patients has increased by over 10 percent between the years 2011 and 2013, a newly released data by the federal government show.

The increase is more than double the inflation rate but the amounts paid by Medicare have remained the same. The rising list prices primarily affected the uninsured and those who use hospitals outside of their insurance network.

The data, which was released on Monday and represented over seven million hospital discharges and approximately $62 billion in Medicare payments, provided information on charges and payments revealing that oncologists and eye doctors have yet again topped the high earner list.

The data also provided information on roughly 950,000 doctors and health care practitioners who received $90 billion in Medicare payments with the government providing the information to make the country's healthcare system more accountable.

Anne Greist, an oncologist with the Indiana Hemophilia & Thrombosis Center in Indianapolis, received $28 million from Medicare in 2013, which is the highest for any physician but nearly all of this amount were for purchase of Part B drugs, which means the money went to drugmakers.

The data examined Medicare "Part B," which reflect the fees that are paid for the services provided by doctors treating about 34 million people. Billing under the Medicare Advantage program, however, is not included.

"This is extremely valuable information for policymakers and purchasers so we begin to understand the cost of healthcare to the American taxpayer," said Leah Binder, from the Leapfrog Group promoting for price transparency and safety. "We are only now beginning to see trend data. For most of our lifetimes we were forbidden from seeing this data, so finally we are moving in the right direction."

CMS chief data officer Niall Brennan said that hospital and physician data will continue to be released annually. Most of those who have health insurance including people who receive Medicare won't see a bill for the list price of the hospital as insurers negotiate lower rate.

The rising charges, however, pose some concern because some consumers particularly the uninsured and those who seek care in a hospital not included in the network of their insurer. A growing number of health insurers offer plans with limited network of hospitals and doctors and this could make it easier for a patient to choose the wrong hospital and get charged a bigger bill.

Photo: Yuya Tamai | Flickr

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