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Medical News and Perspectives |

Release of Data on What Hospitals Charge Appears More Likely to Confuse Rather Than Enlighten Consumers

Mike Mitka, MSJ
JAMA. 2013;310(2):130-131. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.7671.
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In releasing its data on hospital prices and charges, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suggests such information will assist consumers and patients in making better, economically informed choices when deciding on where to go for health care. But some observers are skeptical that the data are detailed enough to truly benefit individuals shopping for care.

The May 8 release by HHS’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), as required by the Affordable Care Act, includes hospital-specific charges for the more than 3000 hospitals receiving Medicare inpatient prospective payment system payments for the 100 most frequently billed discharges during fiscal-year 2011 (http://tinyurl.com/blv4cwg). The data represent almost 7 million hospital discharges, or 60% of Medicare’s hospital charges.

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Citing the need for transparency, the federal government suggests that the release of hospital prices and charges for frequently billed Medicare discharges will help patients make economically informed choices when they seek health care services.

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