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Some hospital bills vastly higher for similar care

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government is shedding light on the mystery of just how high a hospital bill might go — and whether it's cheaper to get that care across town.

The Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday listed thousands of hospitals' charges for 100 common Medicare services.

There are vast disparities. Joint replacement prices range from about $5,000 at an Ada, Okla., hospital to about $220,000 in Monterey Park, Calif. It's not just geography — hospitals within the same cities also vary widely.

Medicare and insurance companies negotiate lower rates than these "list prices." These prices can affect the co-pays that hit insured patients.

Releasing the information may put pressure on hospitals to lower charges that are out of line.

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