As part of an ongoing effort to examine the factors that drive health care costs in Colorado, the Colorado Center on Law and Policy is studying the charges associated with hospital care in Colorado in a series called Our Dollars, Our Health.

In May, CMS published the first ever national data detailing what hospitals charge for their services. This data lists the average amounts Colorado hospitals charged Medicare for the 100 most common procedures in 2011. While initial evidence has previously suggested that hospital charges differ widely, this data, for the first time, allows the public to rigorously analyze hospital charges across Colorado and begin to understand the extent to which hospital charges are related to factors that influence cost.

Part 1: Charges vary dramatically among Colorado hospitals, even within the same city

Colorado hospitals vary dramatically in what they charge and officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have said there is simply no business reason for such a wide variation.

– Grand Junction Area
– Pueblo and Southern Colorado
– Boulder County
– Colorado Springs

Part 2: Hospital charges are not related to actual costs or other commonly suggested factors

Colorado hospitals vary dramatically in what they charge and officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have said there is simply no business reason for such a wide variation.
In addition, CCLP has also gathered data about hospitals in several of Colorado’s largest communities:

Colorado hospitals charge several times more than the estimated cost of providing quality care, according to analysis of recently released national data on hospital charges and Medicare payments. While the cost of hospital care is one of the major contributors to ballooning healthcare costs, very little detailed information is publicly available to consumers about hospital charges and actual costs.

Part 3 (Coming soon): Higher prices do not buy better care at Colorado hospitals