Across the United states, where a patient lives can be a key factor in the cost of hospital care.

"Some hospitals are receiving 200% of Medicare as their reimbursement level, and some are at about 350% of Medicare," said Peter Hayes, president and CEO of the Healthcare Purchaser Alliance of Maine. "What that means in the real world is that if it costs a hospital $10,000 to deliver a medical procedure, one hospital is charging $20,000 but others are charging $35,000. Their costs are relatively the same, but their prices are significantly different. Employers are starting to ask, `Why should consumers who have high deductibles pay such wildly different prices for health care based on geography?'"

Hayes and a group of other panelists addressed that question in a June 9 webinar, "A Fresh Look at Reference-Based Pricing to Drive Affordability," sponsored by the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions. The issue of hospital pricing has become even more pertinent during the current time of soaring inflation. Although the price of gasoline dominates the headlines, the cost of health care is eroding the earning power of U.S. workers.

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