The Chaos of Hospital Pricing
Health Care

The Chaos of Hospital Pricing

Getty Images/Joe Raedle

The Trump administration now requires all hospitals to list their prices online, but the numbers can be hard to interpret, according to Kaiser Health News’ Julie Appleby and Barbara Feder Ostrov. The writers describe the newly released hospital data as “a dog’s breakfast of medical codes, abbreviations and dollar signs — in little discernible order — that may initially serve to confuse more than illuminate.”

Kaiser’s Harriet Blair Rowan took a closer look at the data and found huge differences in prices for some basic supplies and procedures. In one example, shown in the chart below, the list price for a container of saline fluid ranged from a low of $56 at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland to a high of $472.50 at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan – a difference of roughly 700 percent. 

Why it matters: As is the case with drug prices, transparency is important — but it’s not enough, by itself, to bend the cost curve.