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Transparent Hospital Pricing Exposes Wild Fluctuation, Even Within Miles
Kaiser Health News

The federal government’s new rule requiring hospitals to post prices for their services is intended to allow patients to shop around and compare prices, a step toward price transparency that has generated praise and skepticism.

Kaiser Health News examined the price lists — known in hospital lingo as “chargemasters” — of the largest acute care hospitals in several large cities.

Prices varied widely on some basic procedures, even for basic charges. For instance, the list price on a liter of basic saline solution for intravenous use ranged from $56 to $472.50, nearly seven times as much. A brain MRI with contrast was priced from $1,7210 to $8,800 at the hospitals. And they varied widely even when comparing nearby hospitals.

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