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Charges for blood tests vary across California hospitals
Date:8/15/2014

es, especially if they don't qualify for charity care discounts," Hsia said. "And as employers are switching to more consumer-directed health plans with higher deductibles and co-pays, the out-of-pocket costs of even insured patients can be affected by these charges."

The blood test analysis was based on charges assessed in 2011 by general, acute care medical/surgical hospitals. The majority of the hospitals were not-for-profit, urban, non-teaching facilities. On average, 41 percent of their patient populations were on Medicare and 25 percent were on Medicaid.

The blood test charges were based on hospital full rates before pre-payments or contractual adjustments.

The scientists noted that they were unable to quantify some factors which could help influence medical charges for blood tests: "For example, many quality hospitals may choose to invest in higher quality facilities, supplementary services and social services than others," they wrote in their report. "The costs of these differences, while of value to patients, are not easy to measure, However, they likely do trickle down into charges for all basic services, including blood tests."

Still, they wrote, few of these factors were significant predictors of the charges patients ultimately faced.

Price variation similarly occurs when patients are hospitalized, according to a separate study also led by Hsia and published in the August 2014 issue of PLOS ONE. In that analysis, hospital charges for an average California patient admitted for uncomplicated percutaneous coronary intervention ranged from $22,047 to $165,386, with a median charge of $88,350. Charges were higher at California hospitals located in areas with higher costs of living, in rural hospitals, and in hospitals with higher proportions of Medicare patients. However, these factors accounted for less than half the price variation, said the authors.

"To expect patients to be rational consumers is un
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Contact: Elizabeth Fernandez
elizabeth.fernandez@ucsf.edu
415-502-6397
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert

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