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Health care commission expands hospital price information program

(Lisa F. Young / Depositphotos.com)

(Lisa F. Young / Depositphotos.com)

The Maryland Health Care Commission has expanded its program informing patients about the costs and quality of different procedures at different hospitals in the state.

The WearTheCost.org program has been updated to include new data and allow patients to create custom reports that they can share with their doctors.

“The cost of a common procedure, such as delivering a baby, can vary by thousands of dollars among hospitals,” Ben Steffen, the executive director of the commission, said in a statement. “The price difference can’t always be attributed to quality; sometimes prices are just higher and consumers are entitled to know that.”

The WearTheCost.org program launched last October. It includes prices and quality information for four procedures: hip replacement, knee replacement, hysterectomy and vaginal delivery.

For example, the site shows that prices for a hip replacement can range from $22,166 at St. Agnes Hospital to $36,659 at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital.

It also shows that the $23,839 procedure at Carroll Hospital has resulted in fewer potentially avoidable complications. The site says the $33,215 at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center has a worse rate of potentially avoidable complications than average.

The update includes data from the 2015-16 reporting period. Hospitals in Maryland set their prices through the rate-setting Health Services Cost Review Commission.

“Providers have been under pressure to release prices and are required to release quality information by state and federal agencies, but that’s not enough,” Steffen said. “Consumers need to play a role, and our updated website will help educate and encourage them to appeal to hospitals and others to make prices and information on quality and safety readily available.”

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