Variation in Cost of Echocardiography Within and Across US Hospitals. Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography : official publication of the American Society of Echocardiography Wei, C., Milligan, M., Lam, M., Heidenreich, P. A., Sandhu, A. 2023


BACKGROUND: While transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) is responsible for more Medicare spending than any other cardiovascular imaging procedure, little is known about its commercial cost footprint. The 2021 Hospital Price Transparency Final Rule mandated US hospitals publish their insurer-negotiated and self-pay prices for services. This study sought to characterize and assess factors contributing to variation in TTE prices.METHODS: We used a commercial database containing hospital-disclosed prices to characterize variation in TTE prices within and across hospitals. We linked this price data to hospital and regional characteristics using Medicare Facility IDs.RESULTS: 1949 hospitals reported commercial prices. Among reporting hospitals, median commercial and self-pay prices were 2.93- and 3.06-times greater than the median Medicare price ($1313 and $1422, respectively, versus $464). Within hospitals, the 90th percentile payer-negotiated rate was 2.78 (IQR 1.80-5.09) times the 10th percentile rate (within-center ratio). Across hospitals within the same hospital referral region (HRR), the median price at the 90th percentile hospital was 2.47 (IQR 1.69-3.75) times that at the 10th percentile hospital (across-center ratio). On univariate analysis, for-profit (p=0.04), teaching (p<0.01), investor-owned (P<0.01), and higher-rated hospitals (p<0.01) charged higher prices, whereas rural referral centers (p=0.01) and disproportionate share hospitals (DSH) (p<0.01) charged less. On multivariate analysis, the association between these characteristics and TTE prices persisted, except investor ownership and rural referral centers.CONCLUSIONS: Self-pay and commercial TTE prices were higher than Medicare prices and varied significantly within and across hospitals. For-profit, teaching, and higher-rated hospitals had higher prices, in contrast to DSH hospitals. Better understanding the relationship between this cost variation and quality of care is critical given the impact of cost on healthcare access and affordability.

View details for DOI 10.1016/j.echo.2023.01.002

View details for PubMedID 36638930