Same procedure, different bills at Pa. hospitals

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A government release of health care billing information shows that Pennsylvania hospitals sometimes charge vastly different rates for the same medical condition.

In Philadelphia the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania bills $26,674 for chest pain.

The same medical condition at Uniontown Hospital in Uniontown is billed at $5,687, while the Reading Hospital Medical Center in Reading bills an average of $16,696.

Medicare pays hospitals on its own fee schedule that isn’t based on the listed charges. And insurance companies routinely negotiate discount rates with the hospitals.

But patients who are uninsured can be billed the full amount. And federal officials say some with private insurance may find their share of the bill is inflated as a result of a hospital’s higher charges.

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