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“Employers and the Minnesota Department of Health have joined together to add some price transparency to the hidden world of health care costs,” said a press release from the Minnesota Department of Health. “This report of actual prices paid for a set of four different common procedures at Minnesota hospitals found huge swings in prices depending on which hospital a patient selected. For example, while the average price paid for a knee replacement in Minnesota was $23,997, the range in prices paid to Minnesota hospitals between July 2014 and June 2015 was as low as $6,186 to as high as $46,974. This represents a nearly eight-fold difference between the lowest and highest-price hospitals. Likewise, the average price for a cesarean section delivery was $10,234, with the low price of $4,693 and the high average price of $22,831, a nearly five-fold difference. ‘This is eye opening information for the purchasers of health care,’ said Carolyn Pare, president and CEO of the Minnesota Health Action Group, a coalition of public and private purchasers dedicated to improving health care outcomes and the overall value of health care services. ‘Employers have long suspected that there is a great deal of variation in both the quality and the cost of health care, but to be able to see the actual numbers provides them an opportunity to make better purchasing decisions. Employers can also help employees and their family members identify and access more affordable care.’ The new report, based on commercial payer data only, is the result of employers teaming up with the Minnesota Department of Health to identify new ways to use the Minnesota All-Payer Claims Database (MN APCD) to better understand what’s happening in health care across the state. Information from the report can help employers ask questions about choosing high-value networks that are characterized by high quality care and competitive prices. Representatives from about twenty employers helped design several ideas for analyses and reports, and placed the highest priority on reports about prices paid for common inpatient treatments.” Source: Research finds nearly 8-fold price differences at Minnesota hospitals.

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...