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With health care costs increasing, and the majority of the costs distributed to the individual/patient, researchers decided to study variation in charges among hospitals, in particular the emergency departments (EDs) of these hospitals.
The study, published online, was a cross-sectional look at the variation in charges for ED visits in California hospitals. It focused only on those charges reported to California Ofﬁce of Statewide Health Planning and Development by nonfederal, acute care hospitals.
To understand the billing process, all charges are categorized into 5 levels:
“The largely arbitrary charge-master system in hospitals has a major bearing on the cost of medical care,” said Dr. Hsia. “The lack of systematic charge setting can have especially devastating effects on uninsured or out-of-network patients facing the full bill for their care.”