How to Compare Hospital Costs
Each year, more public and private institutions are providing health care consumers with higher-quality information and cost data to help them choose hospitals and other care facilities.
If your doctor recommends that you have surgery or a medical procedure, taking time to research hospitals in your community to compare costs, care quality, infection control and other concerns can provide peace of mind.
The following Web sites and links can help you find relevant hospital information for you and your family.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Hospital Compare, at http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov/hospital/home2.asp, provides information on the quality measures at hospitals in selected cities and ZIP codes. Visitors to the site can see how hospitals compare in their surgical procedures, as well as how their treatments for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia measure up.
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, at http://www.qualitycheck.org/consumer/searchQCR.aspx, helps consumers find hospitals and other health care organizations that meet the commission’s patient safety and quality standards.
By clicking on the Quality Data Download tab, you can download performance results for available hospitals. The reports feature a format with checks, pluses and minuses to help evaluate performance in several key areas, including quality of care.
The National Institutes of Health, at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/healthfacilities.html, has links to general news about hospitals, as well as directories and statistics. The NIH also offers a Choosing a Doctor or Healthcare Service link, at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/choosingadoctororhealthcareservice.html, which has suggestions for choosing providers and health facilities.
The Health Grades Hospital Quality Report, at http://www.healthgrades.com, offers a comprehensive quality report that includes overall service ratings for hospitals, patient safety ratings, awards received and comparative cost ratings. The fee is $17.95 for the first hospital and $2.95 for each additional one. A free general report of hospital ratings for dozens of common surgeries and procedures also is available.
Many state medical boards or health commissions provide hospital quality and cost comparisons. To find them, go to http://www.google.com and enter “compare hospitals” and your state in the search engine.