The Most Expensive Hospital in America

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Bayonne (N.J.) Medical Center is the most expensive hospital in the country, according to a New York Times analysis, as the hospital billed Medicare the highest amounts in the country for nearly one-quarter of the most common hospital procedures.

The NYT analysis, which is based on 2011 Medicare data, found no other hospital at the top of the price list more often than Bayonne. The for-profit, privately held hospital is located roughly 11 miles outside of Manhattan in a blue-collar town.

Bayonne typically charged $99,689 for treating each case of chronic lung disease, which is five times as much as other hospitals and 17 times as much as Medicare paid in reimbursement. It charged an average of $120,040 to treat transient ischemia, or "mini strokes." That amount is six times the national average and 24 times what Medicare paid, according to the report.

Bayonne was losing nearly $1.5 million a month before it filed for bankruptcy in 2007. In 2008, it was acquired out of bankruptcy by a group of buyers, including one with experience at a private equity firm. The deal was valued at about $41 million.

The new owners made some changes to Bayonne's financial structure. The hospital changed from non-profit to for-profit status and cut ties with large private payors, essentially making it out-of-network for most insurance plans, according to the report.

Private payors have filed suit against the hospital for its billing practices. A suit with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey was settled in 2011, whereas a suit filed by Aetna was dismissed.  

A union representative in the report said Bayonne's options were limited, as it could either go under this new financial model or close its doors, according to the report.

Officials or owners of the hospital did not respond to NYT calls for comment, according to the report.

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