Price Of A Common Surgery Varies From $39,000 To $237,000 In L.A.

by Chad Terhune and Sandra Poindexter, Los Angeles Times

surgical team seen from perspective of a patient on a gurney


A short drive in the Los Angeles area can yield big differences in price for knee or hip replacement surgery.

New Medicare data show that Inglewood’s Centinela Hospital Medical Center billed the federal program $237,063, on average, for joint replacement surgery in 2013.

That was the highest charge nationwide. And it’s six times what Kaiser Permanente billed Medicare eight miles away at its West L.A. hospital. Kaiser billed $39,059, on average, and Medicare paid $12,457.

The federal program also paid a fraction of Centinela’s bill — an average of $17,609 for these procedures.

The average charge nationwide for a major joint replacement operation was $54,239, according to federal figures.

Joint replacement surgeries are Medicare’s most common inpatient procedure, costing the federal government more than $6.6 billion in 2013.

Overall, the latest data show what hospitals charged and what Medicare paid for 100 of the most common inpatient stays and the 30 most common outpatient procedures. The inpatient data cover more than $62 billion of Medicare money.

The Obama administration first released this type of data two years ago to put heat on hospitals to explain wildly different charges for the same treatment at medical centers across the nation.

Both government officials and employers are demanding more pricing transparency to spur greater competition in hopes that it can help control ever-rising medical costs.

Monday, Medicare also published its second annual set of physician payment data.

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