Heart procedure costs vary between local hospitals

Posted at 6:51 PM, May 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-08 19:18:42-04

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) -- Did you know a medical procedure at one hospital can cost more at another?

Medical professionals have known this for years, but for the first time the data is available to the public.

The CMS (Center for Medicaid and Medicare Service) has released its report of the top 100 medical procedures at hospitals and their costs. 

For Earl Flemming of Richmond, the information is eye-opening.

Flemming had a major heart procedure at Bon Secours Memorial Regional in 2009, following a heart attack. The data shows that if he had the same procedure at a hospital in Nebraska, he would of saved $20,000 dollars.

"Hospitals need to charge the same thing," Flemming said.

"If I had known this I probably would of gone to Nebraska," Flemming added.

Flemming is still paying for his 2009 procedure, which had a price tag of about $60,000 dollars.

So who charges the most for major cardiovascular procedures in our area?

According to the data, Chippenham Johnston-Willis (CJW) charges $218,797 dollars; Henrico Doctors Hospital, $179,000 dollars; Bon Secours Memorial Regional,  $102,301; and VCU Medical Center charges $123,000 dollars.

When it comes to needing a ventilator for less than 96 hours, CJW charges $211,000 dollars; Henrico Doctors charges $82,332 dollars; Bon Secours Memorial Regional charges $59,025; and VCU Medical Center charges $72,195 dollars.

So why can hospitals charge different rates?

According to Katharine Webb of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association it is because the price rate is based off a formula developed in the 1960s that factors in location and hospital size.

"We believe in transparency and we think this data begins a discussion that is very important to have," Webb said.

VCU Medical Center Spokesman Anne Buckley sent CBS 6 the following statement:

"What hospitals charge rarely reflects what they are actually paid by government or private insurers; therefore, the focus should be on what hospitals are actually receiving in payment.

Hospital charges vary because they reflect the individual hospital’s mission, the patient population it serves and the subsidies necessary to provide essential public services.

In addition, a hospital that provides vital highly specialized services, such as emergency room care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and essential, highly specialized and disaster-ready services such as trauma or burn units, has a different cost structure and pricing than one that does not. In addition, some hospitals, such as the VCU Medical Center, are academic teaching hospitals that train physicians and other health care professionals, conduct medical research and serve as a safety net hospital, taking care of a high number of uninsured individuals."