On Wednesday, May 8, the federal agency that runs Medicare released a huge amount of data about how much hospitals bill Medicare for 100 different types of care, and how much Medicare actually pays those hospitals.
This unprecedented data release is receiving widespread media coverage, from the New York Times to the Detroit Free Press. Most stories have focused on the wide variation between hospitals in billing costs and actual reimbursement payments.
The Times even built an interactive map of the U.S. that gives quick access to the Medicare billing and reimbursement data for every hospital in the country – and assigns a colored dot to each one based on where their costs fall in relation to national averages. See http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/05/08/business/how-much-hospitals-charge.html?ref=business
How does UMHS compare, and why? Here are some key points:
• These data show that we are slightly above the national average in our pricing for the 100 conditions listed, and that we receive reimbursement from Medicare at rates that are somewhat higher than the national average.
• The payment we receive for treating Medicare patients is set by the federal government, not us, and takes into account how sick the patient is. Since we care for some of the most acutely ill patients in the country, including transfers from other hospitals and patients with underlying conditions that complicate their care, it is not surprising that we should be reimbursed at a higher rate.
• Our Medicare reimbursement also includes payments that offset some of our costs for caring for a disproportionate share of uninsured patients, and for paying for the salaries, training and supervision of more than 1,100 resident physicians.
• We absorb more than $197 million per year in the cost of uncompensated patient care, and the federal government takes this into account when reimbursing us for the care we provide to people who have Medicare.
• We strive to provide high-value care at all times – for the Medicare system, private insurers and all those who pay for our care.
Feel free to share this article with others who are interested in the cost of health care, and this latest release of data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
You can see the actual data for yourself at http://www.cms.gov/apps/media/press/release.asp?Counter=4596
For a fact sheet with more about Medicare price variation, from CMS, see http://www.cms.gov/apps/media/press/factsheet.asp?Counter=4597