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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will release a data file showing prices for inpatient services in 2011 at U.S. hospitals, Steven Brill reports. Brian Cook at the department’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services tells Brill the move “comes in part” because of Brill’s article from March about health-care costs.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is also “offering $87 million to the states to create what she calls ‘health-care-data-pricing centers,’” Brill writes.
The centers will make pricing transparency more local and user friendly than the giant data file she is releasing this morning.
Brill says the report “should become a tip sheet for reporters in every American city and town, who can now ask hospitals to explain their pricing.”
The Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff and Dan Keating published a piece early Wednesday that used the data to compare prices for procedures at various hospitals. In Washington, D.C., they found, a lower joint replacement at George Washington University’s hospital cost about $39,000 more than one at Sibley Memorial Hospital. If your medical insurance requires you pay a percentage of a procedure’s cost, that’s very useful information.
Brill’s 36-page story was one of Time’s longest-ever pieces; it sold very well at newsstands. It was originally scheduled for publication in The New Republic, which ran an interview with President Obama instead.