That's not the sticker price, but the much lower amount that Medicare actually pays. Also, these prices were are for 2011, and are probably significantly lower than what would be paid today.
The chargemaster list price for the respiratory infection described above was as high as $133,347 at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.
Any two-person household earning, say, $40,000 a year, may have a tough time paying for even the lowest prices. But if they knew about the variations in cost, they might have at least picked a less expensive facility if they'd had the chance.
John Cihomsky, vice president of public relations and communications for Sharp HealthCare, says however that the "chargemaster issue will have no impact on our financial assistance folks. That's because our financial assistance policy, which has been in place for years, has nothing to do with billed charges."
He said Sharp's poverty income guidelines apply 100% of all costs as "charity adjustment" for people earning 200% or less of the federal poverty level, charging the government payer rate for those between 201% and 350% and 140% of Medicare those patients who earn between 351% and 500%.
The newly released database of charges and costs may also be useful to Medicare Advantage plan beneficiaries, at least those unlucky enough to find themselves needing hospital care while they are out of state, or otherwise "out of network," where no hospital is considered in the network.