297%: The average difference between highest, lowest outpatient charges, study says

Nationally, the difference between the lowest and highest gross charges for individual outpatient procedures in the U.S. averaged 297 percent, according to a study from consulting firm Crowe.

In its report, Crowe analyzed financial transactions at more than 1,200 hospitals in the U.S. captured through its revenue cycle analytics solution. Crowe focused on individual pricing levels of 100 common outpatient procedures that had gross charges above $500. These are the list prices hospitals post in their system.

In one example, the report found the specific billing code for a high-severity, potentially life-threatening emergency room visit resulted in an average gross charge of $3,499 for the most expensive hospitals. For the least expensive, the average gross charge was $692, or a 406 percent difference.

Big pricing disparities were identified on a local basis, too. For a standard MRI procedure in a metropolitan area of more than 3 million, Crowe found a 115 percent difference between the highest gross charge ($4,548) and the lowest ($2,115).

To view the full report, click here.

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