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Study Says Kansas City Hospital Prices 'Unusually High'

A new study shows that the prices private insurers pay to hospitals vary widely. Not only that, they're much higher than what Medicare pays — especially in Kansas City.

The study, done by the non-profit Center for Studying Health System Change, reviewed actual claims paid for more than $500,000 auto workers and their families in 13 Midwestern metropolitan areas.

Lead author Chapin White says the average claim for inpatient care at five hospitals in Kansas City was more than double the rate Medicare pays. That’s mainly because of one hospital who charged private insurers more than triple what Medicare pays.

“They are all over the map, but if you just look at average prices Kansas City is actually the highest-priced market out of the 13 that we looked at," says White. "There are some hospitals that are actually getting paid pretty low prices, but then there are some others that are just getting extremely high prices.”

For outpatient care, Kansas City had the third-highest average price. One Kansas City provider, though, had the highest rates of all providers surveyed — more than 4.5 times the Medicare rate.

Across the 13 communities surveyed, patients with private insurance paid an average of 1.5 times the Medicare rate for inpatient care, and double the Medicare rate for outpatient services. 

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