New report shows costs of medical procedures can vary widely amo - KPTV - FOX 12

New report shows costs of medical procedures can vary widely among hospitals

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An annual report produced by the Oregon Health Authority on hospital pricing shows wide variations in costs of common medical procedures.

The Oregon Hospital Payment Report was mandated by the state legislature in 2015, to ensure transparency in the state's health care system.

According to the report, the latest data available, from 2015, reveal that "most procedures show sizable variations in paid amounts, both within and between hospitals."

"The takeaway should be that a consumer or patient is informed that there's differences. That you know you could be paying something different depending on where you go," said Steve Ranzoni, a hospital policy advisor for OHA, and the report's primary author.

The reasons for the differences in paid amounts vary. For one, hospitals negotiate their reimbursement with insurance companies individually. For that reason, every hospital has its own contracts and payment rates.

Ranzoni said pricing also depends on how many patients a hospital sees, and the cost of living for the area in which the hospital is located.

The differences can be considerable. In the case of a severely broken bone, which is considered an "open fracture repair," for instance, the state-wide median cost is $27,300. But depending on the hospital, patients were charged anywhere from a low of $15,888 to a $33,976 on the high end.

Kathleen Adams, who recently had surgery to repair a broken arm, likely paid more for the procedure because it was done at a small hospital in Warrenton, near her home in Hammond, than she would have at a hospital in Portland.

"They said, can you go to Portland. And it's like, no. I'm the only driver. My husband can't drive," said Adams. "To drive to Portland with one arm, with the other one broken, I can't do that."

In another example, a heart valve replacement cost just under $61,000 at a Portland area hospital, and just under $108,000 at a hospital in Bend.

Ranzoni said patients are best served doing some homework before their procedure, if they can.

"Get on the phone and say, where can I go that's in-network that's going to cost me the least," said Ranzoni.

According to the report, the procedure with the largest increase in median amount paid from 2014 to 2015 was coronary bypass surgery, which increased by $8,700 per procedure.

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