New York State has pulled back the curtain on hospital charges with a new database showing what each hospital charges for 1,400 different procedures.
The differences can be dramatic: At Bellevue Hospital, the median charge for an uncomplicated birth is $6,330, and at NYU Langone Medical Center next door, the median charge is $12,222.
Lutheran Medical Center in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, typically charges $5,686 and Maimonides Medical Center, a dozen miles away, $14,763.
But those factors do not account for why at Westchester Medical Center, the median charge for a vaginal delivery is $22,143, and at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, it is $11,900.
The Greater New Hospital Association said the information is “complex and can be confusing,” because “hospital charges do not reflect the far lower payments hospitals actually receive for the services they provide.” Medicare and Medicaid reimburse much less than what hospitals charge, and insurers and managed care companies also negotiate rates that have little to do with what hospitals ask to be paid.
People without insurance, however, are subject to these sticker prices. In practice, hospitals typically...