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HHS Releases Data on Inpatient Charges for Hospital Services

HHS is also providing funding to data centers to collate, analyze, publish data to assist consumers

THURSDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) -- To promote transparency in the health care system, the first part of a three-part initiative has been released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The report provides consumers with information on hospital charges and highlights the considerable variation across the country for common inpatient services.

The data include charges for services that may be provided during the 100 most common Medicare inpatient stays and allow comparison between individual hospitals within regions and nationwide. Substantial variation has been noted in inpatient charges for hospital services. For example, inpatient charges for services provided to treat heart failure can range from $21,000 to $46,000 in Denver and from $9,000 to $51,000 in Jackson, Miss.

The HHS is providing funding ($87 million) to data centers to collate, analyze, and publish data on health pricing and medical claims reimbursement. This will enable consumers to understand the comparative price of procedures in a specific region or for a particular health insurer or service setting. The information will also be useful for businesses and consumers to drive decision making and incentivize cost-effective provision of care.

"Currently, consumers don't know what a hospital is charging them or their insurance company for a given procedure, like a knee replacement, or how much of a price difference there is at different hospitals, even within the same city," Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, said in a statement. "This data and new data centers will help fill that gap."

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