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

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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 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.

This paper is the first in a series using that information to analyze what Colorado hospitals charge. Many hospitals in Colorado consistently charge more for the same care. Even among hospitals in the same city, prices can differ significantly. Subsequent briefs will analyze the relationship between charges and Medicare payments and whether charges are related to factors that influence a hospital’s costs.

Kyle Brown
Senior Health Policy Analyst
303-573-5669 ext.304