10 procedures for which CT hospital charges vary most

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What does hospital care cost? It varies widely, even within the small state of Connecticut, and recently released FY 2013 data from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows by just how much.

Take spinal fusion, a type of back surgery. According to the federal data, the average charges hospitals sought for the procedure from Medicare varied from $21,945 at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington to $158,360 at Greenwich Hospital — eight times as much.

The actual amount paid varies too, but by far less. That’s because Medicare — and insurance companies — pay hospitals at rates that generally vary widely from what hospitals charge. For that same procedure, for example, Charlotte Hungerford was paid $23,945 — by both Medicare and any other payments from patients or other insurers — while Greenwich got paid $31,394. (The most paid, on average, was to Yale-New Haven Hospital: $41,497.)

But patients who are uninsured, or whose insurance plan doesn’t cover a particular hospital, could get a bill for the full charged amount.

Below, you can find what each hospital in the state charged and would have actually received as payment for several common inpatient procedures — the 10 with the biggest variation in price by both dollars and percentage, and the 10 most common procedures.

“Average charge” refers to what the hospital bills Medicare. “Medicare payment” refers to what Medicare pays, while “total payment” refers to what the hospital would receive from Medicare as well as the patient — who might have to pay a co-payment or deductible — and any other insurance plan the patient has.

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