Hospitals charge insured patients more for same services, study says

A study from a Trinity College economist found that 60 percent of rates negotiated by health insurers were higher than self-pay cash rates for the same services. 

In the study, Gerardo Ruiz Sánchez, PhD, examined data on 14 shoppable hospital services that can be scheduled by patients in advance — including office visits, CT scans and MRIs — according to a Nov. 21 Trinity College news release. The data was made available through the federal Hospital Price Transparency Rule and was compiled within the Turquoise Health dataset, which includes records from about 2,200 hospitals. Dr. Sánchez focused on payer-specific negotiated rates charged to Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealth.     

The study also found substantial differences in cash prices across hospitals, according to the release. Costs for the same procedure could be as much as eight times more expensive from one hospital to another. 

Read the study here

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