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May 20, 2013

Hospital Prices No Longer Secret Locally

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/hospital_prices_no_longer_secret_locally/

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Friday's LA Times above the fold story reads: "Cedars stands out for steep pricing."  

With great fanfare the Obama Administration unveiled last week it’s latest effort to rein in skyrocketing healthcare costs by making available hospital cost data on the web.  The information is a bit unwieldy to access, as it currently comes with every hospital in the country that receives Medicare payments. For the first time hospital price disparities have been made public.

It is hoped that the healthcare consumer will use this information to comparison shop and that this readily available information will cause hospital to be less arbitrary in their pricing.

Looking at the ten most common diagnosis that are treated at the flagship local hospital, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and those same diagnostic categories at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in the context of all California hospitals there is already a significant cost divergence.  UCLA is more expensive than 64 percent of all California hospitals in the ten examined diagnostic
categories and Cedars-Sinai is more expensive than 92 percent of all California hospitals.

For example, the most common discharge at Cedars-Sinai in 2011 was the diagnostic category “major replacement or reattachment of lower extremity...” e.g. a hip replacement for which Cedars-Sinai charged on average $110,123 or more expensive than 78 percent of California hospital and Ronald Reagan UCLA charged on the average $87,2011 for the same hospitalization or more expensive than 57 percent of all California hospitals.  Cedars-Sinai did 728 of these discharges in 2011, while Ronald Reagan UCLA only performed 15, meaning that Cedars-Sinai did averaged two-a-day, while Ronald Reagan UCLA did perhaps, one-a-month.  It might be worth the extra 26 percent price premium to buy the obviously greater experience with this diagnosis at Cedars-Sinai.  Looking at this diagnosis locally, St. John’s Medical Center in Santa Monica discharged 922 patients in 2011 with this diagnosis with an average cost of $50,614, or at less than half of Cedars-Sinai’s cost and just a short commute away.

One must consider the volume of experience as well as the cost of each hospital in addition to a myriad of other factors. But since yesterday, this is the first time this price data is available to the consumer. Until the first easy to use apps arrive, it’s possible to download this California extract to do some local and regional hospital comparison shopping.

Data, just for California hospitals, courtesy of this blogger has been put into a downloadable spreadsheet format to enable a first peek at what is available:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AmzDtDbKB9YGdDNkWFpnRFM1MmRFRGNMQU9pNTdYTXc&usp=sharing

Pini Herman, PhD. specializes in demographics, big data and predictive analysis, has served as Asst. Research Professor at the University of Southern California Dept. of Geography,  Adjunct Lecturer at the USC School of Social Work,  Research Director at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles following Bruce Phillips, PhD. in that position and is a past President of the Movable Minyan a lay-lead independent congregation in the 3rd Street area. Currently he is a principal of Phillips and Herman Demographic Research. To email Pini: pini00003@gmail.com To follow Pini on Twitter:

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