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Local healthcare: Comparing the costs

By Kyle Benjamin, kbenjamin@wcyb.com
Published On: May 20 2013 05:11:38 PM CDT
Updated On: May 19 2013 11:00:00 PM CDT

If you've been to the doctor or hospital lately, you may have been surprised at how much medical care costs.

If you've been to the doctor or hospital lately, you may have been surprised at how much medical care costs.

Now, for the first time, the federal government has a database of information on just what hospitals charge for medical procedures across the country.

So how do our area's hospitals stack up? We crunched the numbers to bring you the results.

First, some background -- where do these numbers come from? The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that administers Medicare and Medicaid, compiled information from hospitals all over the country and Washington D.C. about the top 100 most-diagnosed conditions that require an overnight or in-patient stay.

We waded through stacks of spreadsheets, looked at websites and spoke to the chief financial officers for both Mountain States Health Alliance and Welmont Health Systems to get their perspective.

Both of them tell us what you pay depends on many factors, but they agree the biggest price differences between hospitals can be chalked up to location.

Wellmont executive Alice Pope offered an explanation. "If you need a fairly invasive or high-tech surgery or procedure, something along those lines, those rural facilities really can't afford to recruit the type of surgeons and specialists you need for those procedures," she said.

That treatment that can cost a heap of money depending on where you go.

COPD TREATMENT COMPARISON

We begin with looking at treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a serious respiratory disease better known as COPD.

  • Johnston Memorial Hospital charges $14,205.11.
  • Similar care at Johnson City Medical Center is about $3,000 higher at $17,103.44.
  • At Bristol Regional Medical Center, the cost is about $5,000 dollars less at $11,953.11.
  • Holston Valley charges about $500 more, totaling $12,457.93.
  • At Indian Path Medical Center in Kingsport the cost is $15,675.68.

PNEUMONIA TREATMENT COMPARISON

Another common medical problem is pneumonia, which can be life-threatening.

  • Treatment at Indian Path costs $14,782.
  • At Holston Valley that care is about $1,800 less at $13,014.85.
  • Mountain States' Franklin Woods Community Hospital in Johnson City charges more at $16,832.46.
  • At Johnson City Medical Center the tab is $13,137.63.
  • Pneumonia treatment is $900 less at Bristol Regional at $11,259.16.
  • At Johnston Memorial the same treatment will cost almost $14,869.19.

CHEST PAIN TREATMENT COMPARISON

Most hospitals have chest pain centers now, focusing on heart attacks and cardiac care.

  • At Indian Path treatment will cost you $16,011.54.
  • That same treatment is about $5,000 less at Holston Valley, totaling $11,065.46.
  • At Franklin Woods Community Hospital the cost is more than $6,000 higher, totaling $17,611.05.
  • Just down the road at Johnson City Medical, the bill will run $15,580.44.
  • Back at Bristol Regional Medical Center, the charge is almost $5,000 less at $10,643.42.
  • Add another $2,000-plus at Johnston Memorial with a price tag of $12,960.30.

Watch News 5 Tuesday to learn facts and figures about some serious surgery and the charges for treating a painful infection.