Reporting Tim Kephart
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act begins to take effect, the costs of health care are finally being revealed to customers. The numbers show wildly different charges for similar procedures across the country and no real explanation of why the prices vary so much.
For example, Baptist Hospital of Miami averages bills that are 1-to-2 times the U.S. average. A similar cost structure can be found at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood.
But even among similarly priced hospitals, the costs can still vary. Baptist Hospital charges Medicare an average of $74,610 for a major joint replacement, which is 1.5 times the U.S. average. For the same procedure Jackson charges Medicare $63,573, or 1.3 times the national average. Finally, Memorial Regional in Hollywood charges Medicare $60,742 for a major joint replacement.
However, the actual amount Medicare pays each hospital for the procedure varies as well. Medicare pays Baptist an average of $20,610, pays Jackson an average of $24,467; and Memorial Regional an average of $14,981 for a major joint replacement.
Other procedures revealed similar cost disparities including laproscopic gallbladder removal. At Baptist, a laproscopic gallbladder removal will see the hospital bill Medicare $61,585; at Jackson the billed cost is $33,125; and Memorial charges $62,191.
On the flip side, Medicare actually pays Baptist $10,933 for the gallbladder removal; pays Jackson $13,322; and Memorial receives $8,582 for the procedure from Medicare.
Across South Florida, the majority of hospitals charge Medicare around 1 to 2 times the national average for different procedures. Some notable exceptions are Doctors Hospital, Coral Gables Hospital, Hialeah Hospital, and the Cleveland Clinic in Weston.
Doctors Hospital, Coral Gables Hospital, and Hialeah Hospital all charge Medicare more than 2 times the U.S. average for procedures, according to the New York Times data. On the other side, the Cleveland Clinic bills Medicare less than the U.S. average for health procedures.
Across the state, most facilities south of the I-4 corridor bill Medicare 1-2 times the national average for procedures, according to the Times.