New data shows that patients may pay tens of thousands more for the same treatments if they pick the wrong facility.  Even within the same community, different hospitals are charging wildly varying prices without a lot of regulation.  Between states the numbers are troublingly different as well.  A joint replacement for a Medicare patient in Maryland might run around $21,000.  That same procedure in California can run a staggering $88,000.  Meanwhile, a South Carolina patient will see an average bill of $57,000.

In an attempt to promote transparency and help patients navigate the healthcare marketplace 34 states currently require hospitals to report certain charges and reimbursement rates.  Lawmakers in other states are introducing legislation which attempts to increase transparency in the industry. Only 10 states have established statewide databases of statistical information from health insurance claims. Utah, one of the frontrunners in providing cost and quality comparison tools for public, allows employees to compare insurer contracted charges, not just the non-discounted billed charges. The new healthcare marketplaces provided under the Affordable Healthcare Act (sometimes known as “Obamacare”) are expected to benefit healthcare consumers and have an impact on total cost of care for individuals.  See full article here.

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