Medicare Charges: What does CMS have to offer?

Interestingly, CMS has recently published charges for more than 3,000 hospitals paid under IPPS. The charges include the top 100 most frequently billed charges during Fiscal Year 2011. CMS says that these “DRGs represent almost 7 million discharges or 60 percent of total Medicare IPPS discharges.” This is pretty overwhelming.

Some questions:

1. Do charges really matter for IPPS hospitals? The answer is probably not, though not that charges do matter in some cases (for example, EHR incentive payments).

2. What is the reason for the charge differential? Could it be that some services are better? I’d like to see some data about average length of stays (ALOS) because some DRGs may be higher charges because the average length of stay is higher (higher per diem cost).

3. What is the value of releasing this data? Can a patient use this information to negotiate better rates?

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