Cost of hospital stay rises in Maryland

The cost of a hospital stay in Maryland is on the rise, but not as much as that nationally, according to a report released Wednesday by the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission.

The average cost to stay in a Maryland hospital was $10,983 in fiscal year 2010, compared to $10,767 the previous year, according to the report. The 2 percent increase was lower than that nationally, where the cost of a hospital stay increased 3 percent.

The markup, or difference between hospitals costs and what hospitals ultimately charge patients, is also the lowest in the nation, the report found. The average markup was 24.5 percent for Maryland hospitals compared to 198 percent nationwide, according to the commission.

Maryland's rate-setting system is different from the rest of the nation in that the commission sets the same rates for everybody. It allows for everyone to share in the cost of uncompensated care and makes it harder for hospitals to shift costs to the employers that pay insurance premiums. The report also found that the state's uncompensated care dropped to $926 million in fiscal 2010 from $999 million the previous year.

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