Steven Sonenreich, chief executive of Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, has pledged a move virtually unheard of in the health care industry: to publish what his hospital charges insurers for procedures. “We will post our prices relative to Blue Cross and Aetna, our contractual prices,” Sonenreich said during a local radio appearance in May. He went on to challenge other hospitals to follow his lead, and they should.
Hospitals today have enormous discretion over what they charge, as evidenced by data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in early May from 3,000 medical centers nationwide that accept government-insured patients. Prices diverge drastically. One example from Greater Boston: The average price for treatment of a heart attack without complications at Brigham and Women’s Hospital was $36,111 in 2011; 12 miles away, Winchester Hospital charged an average of $5,987 for the same diagnosis.