The cost of similar COVID-19 treatments can vary by tens of thousands of dollars a patient, even within the same hospital, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of pricing data that indicates pandemic care hasn’t escaped the complex economics of the U.S. health system.
One kind of patient, with a type of severe respiratory condition that is common among those admitted with COVID-19, is an example of the wide range. The rates for these patients usually spanned from less than $11,000 to more than $43,000, the analysis found, but some prices could be far higher, depending on the severity of the case.
At NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, the cost for a severe-respiratory patient was around $55,182 if the person were insured by CVS Health Corp.’s
Aetna, according to the hospital’s data. For UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s
UnitedHealthcare, the hospital’s disclosed rate is $64,326, while the price listed in the hospital’s data for patients covered by Anthem Inc.’s
Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield was $94,357.
The range of prices shows how similar hospital services can generate widely disparate bills. Even during the pandemic, and within the same hospital, the prices often reflect the leverage that an insurer has to wrangle discounts, as well as the hospital’s market power to drive up its rates.
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