Drastic Fluctuations in CABG Costs Across Hospitals

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The price of coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) varies widely across U.S. hospitals, according to a study published in the April 1 issue of The American Journal of Cardiology.

Bria D. Giacomino, DO, from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City, and colleagues obtained out-of-pocket price estimates for CABG from a random sample of 53 U.S. hospitals for a hypothetical patient without medical insurance. The price was compared to a “fair price” estimate from Healthcare Bluebook data, based on each hospital’s zip code, and the Society of Thoracic Surgeons composite CABG quality score and risk-adjusted mortality rate.

The researchers found that the mean price for CABG was $151,271 (range, $44,824 to $448,038). Geographic census region was weakly linked to price, but no associations were seen for price with other structural characteristics or CABG volume. Hospital price was also not associated with average reimbursement from major insurers within the same zip code, Society for Thoracic Surgeon composite quality score, or risk-adjusted CABG mortality.

“There was no correlation between price information obtained from hospitals and the average reimbursement from major insurers in the same market,” the authors write. “We also found no evidence to suggest that hospitals that charge higher prices provide better quality of care.”

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