New York State Hospital Data Exposes Big Markups, And Odd Bargains

Nina Bernstein | New York Times | December 9, 2013

Just how expensive is your hospital? In New York, the answer may lie in a trove of hospital cost data newly posted online by the State Health Department.

As part of an effort to make health care pricing more transparent, the state is naming hospitals and listing their median charges and costs for 1,400 conditions and procedures from 2009 to 2011. In 2011, prices ranged from the $8 bill at Benedictine Hospital in Kingston, N.Y., for treating a case of gastritis (cost: $2), to a $2.8 million charge for a blood disorder case at University Hospital of Brooklyn that cost it $918,462.

Hospital trade groups, who opposed the release of the database, say the figures will only confuse consumers, who rarely pay the sticker price for hospital care, especially if they have insurance. The hospitals also argue that cost figures, though based on reports to the government by the hospitals themselves, cannot be reliably compared because the state did not edit them for deaths, transfers and aberrations.