COLORADO, USA — Colorado's hospitals charged insurance plans and employers more than two and a half times what they were paid by Medicare for the same services, according to a national study that examined 2018 prices from dozens of facilities here.
The study, conducted annually by the RAND Corporation, may provide employers worried about high health costs with more leverage to negotiate with hospitals, experts affiliated with the report said. There is wide variation among Colorado's facilities: Some, like St. Anthony's, charged private payers more than six times what Medicare was paid for outpatient services like clinics. Colorado Plains Medical Center was nearly seven times higher.
Using Medicare is important because it establishes a baseline against which hospitals' prices can be compared. Though hospitals have repeatedly criticized using the metric because they say Medicare doesn't cover their costs, experts said that it provides a needed grounding-point and that Medicare is closer to paying costs than hospitals say.
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