Hospital pricing part of what ails health care system

It’s hard to know what to make out of the wildly varying rates hospitals charge for the same procedures – other than that it shows how dysfunctional our health care system is. As the Eagle reported today, costs related to joint replacement ranged from $5,300 at a hospital in Ada, Okla., to $223,000 at a hospital in Monterey Park, Calif. Prices at Wichita hospitals and surgery centers also vary greatly, even between Via Christi Via Hospital on St. Teresa and Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis. Hospital officials warn that many factors are involved in pricing, including the health of the patient and whether the patient was admitted through the emergency room. Also, some hospitals charge higher because they have to cover the cost of training future doctors or providing charity care. They also note that few people pay the “list price” for procedures. Still, this complicated pricing system is part of the problem.