OK

This is only a Preview!

You must Publish this diary to make this visible to the public,
or click 'Edit Diary' to make further changes first.

Posting a Diary Entry

Daily Kos welcomes blog articles from readers, known as diaries. The Intro section to a diary should be about three paragraphs long, and is required. The body section is optional, as is the poll, which can have 1 to 15 choices. Descriptive tags are also required to help others find your diary by subject; please don't use "cute" tags.

When you're ready, scroll down below the tags and click Save & Preview. You can edit your diary after it's published by clicking Edit Diary. Polls cannot be edited once they are published.

If this is your first time creating a Diary since the Ajax upgrade, before you enter any text below, please press Ctrl-F5 and then hold down the Shift Key and press your browser's Reload button to refresh its cache with the new script files.

ATTENTION: READ THE RULES.

  1. One diary daily maximum.
  2. Substantive diaries only. If you don't have at least three solid, original paragraphs, you should probably post a comment in an Open Thread.
  3. No repetitive diaries. Take a moment to ensure your topic hasn't been blogged (you can search for Stories and Diaries that already cover this topic), though fresh original analysis is always welcome.
  4. Use the "Body" textbox if your diary entry is longer than three paragraphs.
  5. Any images in your posts must be hosted by an approved image hosting service (one of: imageshack.us, photobucket.com, flickr.com, smugmug.com, allyoucanupload.com, picturetrail.com, mac.com, webshots.com, editgrid.com).
  6. Copying and pasting entire copyrighted works is prohibited. If you do quote something, keep it brief, always provide a link to the original source, and use the <blockquote> tags to clearly identify the quoted material. Violating this rule is grounds for immediate banning.
  7. Be civil. Do not "call out" other users by name in diary titles. Do not use profanity in diary titles. Don't write diaries whose main purpose is to deliberately inflame.
For the complete list of DailyKos diary guidelines, please click here.

Please begin with an informative title:

Stethescope on top of pile of money
Say you're on Medicare, and you get pneumonia that requires hospitalization, and say you live in Boise, Idaho. You have a choice of two hospitals. In one, treatment is going to cost $26,932. In the other, $16,239. In Bakersfield, California, the treatment would range from $55,277 to $77,562 among that city's four hospitals. In Boston, one hospital would treat you for $16,952, but the total bill could end up being $54,405 at another hospital.

We know this because the Obama administration, for the first time ever, has compiled national data on what hospitals charged Medicare in 2011 for the 100 most common impatient services. They're making that data available (the database information is here) to the public, and hope it will provide impetus for further reforms.

Administration officials said they offered up the data with hopes that its release would administer a market corrective, forcing hospitals to take greater heed of competitors while arming ordinary people with information they could use to seek a better deal. The data could also spur health insurance companies to negotiate with hospitals to seek lower prices.

"Our purpose for posting this information is to shine a much stronger light on these practices," said Jonathan Blum, director of the Center for Medicare. "What drives some hospitals to have significantly higher charges than their geographic peers? I don't think anyone here has come up with a good economic argument."

The very fact that prices are now public may bring change, he added. "Hopefully, it will cause hospitals themselves to take a hard look at their charge-master practices and to ask hard questions of themselves as an industry why there is so much variation," he said.

The amounts hospitals charge Medicare are not the amounts that actually end up being reimbursed by the program, and in fact, are sometimes as much as six times the actual reimbursement rate. A New York Times analysis of the data shows that the charges are generally three to five times greater than reimbursements. The Times also got a partial explanation from Blum as to why their might be so much variation. Medicare does pay slightly higher rates to teaching hospitals and facilities in cities with high labor costs.

The public release of this data, Blum said, was partly inspired by the blockbuster TIME magazine story by Stephen Brill, which exposed the unfathomable and completely arbitrary price-setting "system" used by health care providers. It's a bizarre game that providers and insurance companies play—we'll charge, oh what the hell, this amount, and you can pay whatever!—that has no oversight, no rhyme, no reason. But at least this new transparency might do exactly what the administration hopes: create some competition that forces both providers and insurance companies to negotiate lower prices, and to save all of us some money.

Intro

You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed May 08, 2013 at 03:35 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.