Thursday, December 17, 2009

NJ Hospital Charges Top the Charts

A recent article by Susan Livio highlights the billing practices of NJ hospitals. Such practices have them billing a lot more than many other hospitals in other states.

National health care economist Graham Atkinson said concerns are well-founded. New Jersey hospital charges are 4.1 times higher than what it costs to treat patients — far exceeding the national average of 2.8 times above cost, he said, based on American Hospital Association data.

A report put out by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute shows the impact of the high prices and the state's policy on billing.

While state laws insulate some patients from the impact of hospitals' full charges, many patients are still paying way too much. For example, if a single patient makes $32,000/year and receives an appendectomy at Elmer Hospital, he would pay just $4,797. However if that same patient happened to make $52,150/year the price would jump to over $43,000. So if one patient makes $20,000 more than another one, then they would pay over $38,000 more for their care (or 9 times more).

By comparison the Healthcare Blue Book has a fair price for the procedure of approximately $12,000.

Given the high prices charged by many NJ hospitals, patients need to be particularly careful when seeking hospital care.

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