Colonoscopies cheaper in Baltimore than other parts of the country

The New York Times looked at the varying costs of a colonoscopy at hospitals around the country to illustrate how simple medical procedures are driving up health care costs.

The story that ran over the weekend found that the costs of medical procedures in the United States are often higher than in other developing countries and varies widely from hospital to hospital.

Baltimore has some of the lowest rates for colonoscopies, according to one New York Times chart. The most someone will pay for a colonoscopy in the city is $1,908. In comparison, New York patients can pay as much as $8,577.

The article said the high prices paid doesn't mean a patient is getting better care. Instead the costs result mostly "from business plans seeking to maximize revenue; haggling between hospitals and insurers that have no relation to the actual costs of performing the procedure; and lobbying, marketing and turf battles among specialists that increase patient fees," the article said.

The story didn't address Baltimore prices specifically. But the reason is likely because of a unique agreement the state has with the federal government, where a state commission sets hospital rates, or what the facilities charge insurers. This allows for less volatility in prices.

Charges may still differ among Maryland hospitals because the state allows some institutions, such as Johns Hopkins and other teaching facilities, to charge more.

The New York Times report comes nearly a month after the federal government released the first ever data detailing what hospitals charge the Medicare program. The report also found prices vary widely.


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