Some hospitals charge thousands more than others for same procedure

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - For the first time, the government is releasing how much hospitals charge for treatments.

Prices for the same procedure aren't the same everywhere you go. Some hospitals charge tens of thousands of dollars more than others for the same treatment. Hospitals in the Treasure Valley are no exception.

The most common inpatient surgery in the Treasure Valley is a joint replacement. But charges for the operation are anything but standard.

The report from fiscal year 2011 lists the average cost of the surgery at each hospital. According to the report, a joint replacement at Saint Alphonsus in Nampa costs $28,993. At Saint Luke's, it's only about a thousand dollars more at $29,935. But at Saint Alphonsus in Boise, the price jumps up six-thousand dollars to $35,999. And if you want your surgery in Caldwell, West Valley Medical Center charges $52,000. That's about $23,000 more than if you were treated in nampa.

According to Saint Luke's, there are a variety of reasons why some hospitals charge more. Patients, location and the hospital's financial need all play into what's charged.

But just because a hospital charges a certain price, that doesn't mean it will actually get the full amount. Medicare and Medicaid only pay what they want, and usually it's a lot less. Insurance companies negotiate the rates with hospitals.

Saint Luke's spokesperson Ken Dey says patients with insurance aren't affected by the varying treatment costs.

"Basically, they would pay the same, depending what their insurance plan is. An insurance plan may have a fifty dollar deductable for example. You'd pay your 50 dollars, and that's all you'd have to pay," he says.