Photo by George Lauby
Great Plains Regional Medical Center under renovation, December 2013
Cost comparison (click to enlarge)
Hospital costs have soared in recent years, but Great Plains Regional Medical Center in North Platte is on the low end of the scale compared with same-size or larger Nebraska hospitals. GPRMC Chief Executive Officer Greg Nielsen recently made the comparison, citing a study by the Nebraska Hospital Association.
Surgical procedures of all kinds typically cost $2,000 less at the North Platte medical center than similar size hospitals, according to the NHA.
As the Bulletin reported Dec. 18, GPRMC is exploring a partnership with eight other Nebraska hospitals to buy supplies and insurance in volume and form an Accountable Care Organization.
ACOs, a provision of Obamacare, would be "held accountable" for providing comprehensive health services and receive financial incentives to do so. In other words, ACOs would be paid according to how healthy people are, instead of just receiving pay for treating people who are ill.
Lower costs would be welcomed by patients, who increasingly have to pay a higher percentage of their medical care because their insurance company is paying less. Hospital costs are sometimes outrageous. For example, a California woman recently paid $2,200 for three stitches and her toddler’s cut was sealed with a dab of skin glue for $1,696, the New York Times recently reported.
In North Platte, a girl had two stitches on her chin last year and the cost was $1,100, according to an anonymous talkbacker on the Bulletin website.
Nielsen said Great Plains administrators, physicians and staff will continue to work together to ensure that patients have access to high-value healthcare at the lowest cost possible.
Nielsen said Great Plains “high-value, low-cost strategy” seems to be working. A Cesarean delivery costs about $10,000 at GPRMC, compared to $12,000 at similar size hospitals in Nebraska.
Heart surgery with angioplasty costs $58,000 at GPRMC, compared to nearly $60,000 at similar size places, according to the NHA report.
However, smaller hospitals in places such as Cozad, Gothenburg, Ogallala and Chase County typically charge a little less than in North Platte, according to the NHA.
Also, the NHA cost comparison does not include physician's or other professional’s fees, such as anesthesiology.
The NHA also notes the hospital charges are often negotiated down by insurance companies, and, that the government typically pays much less than the billed charge for Medicare and Medicaid patients.
The NHA’s website, which was recently launched, contains the hospital rates. Consumers can get an general impression of prices at the different groups of hospitals across the state from the site's general idea of pricing among hospitals.
To see the site, click HERE.
This report was first published in the Jan. 2 print edition of the North Platte Bulletin.