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Now You Can Bargain Shop For High Quality Hospital Care

So you are fairly healthy, don’t have many medical problems, and don’t foresee needing to be admitted to the hospital anytime soon.

But what if you do become acutely ill and are rushed to an emergency room? Let’s face it, not many people plan to have a medical emergency because most are simply unpredictable.

They can happen any time and any place. When you least expect it your life could be turned upside down, so prepare for the unexpected.

You slip on the ice in your driveway one morning and land face down in a pool of muddy slush. Ouch! That’s probably worth a fracture or two, or at least some painful bruises.

Or some sweet little old vision-impaired lady, just shy of her 99th birthday, is determined to maintain her independence, so she drives herself to the grocery store every Thursday. Only this time, she rear-ends you while going 40 MPH.

You initially walk away with a few bumps and bruises, but toss and turn in agony all night long, and ultimately decide you need go to an ER to get checked out.

Then there are all of those elective admissions.

You know, like the hernia surgery you keep putting off or the surgery to remove your gallbladder. Like it or not, at some time almost all of us will be admitted to a hospital, so it’s best to be prepared, just in case.

In May of 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released data on hospital charges, and you won’t believe what they revealed.

Hospitals around the country, and even within the same city, frequently charge vastly different fees for the exact same service. A recent Washington Post* article, One hospital charges $8,000 — another, $38,000, gives alarming examples. Take the case of an uncomplicated pneumonia.

If you live in Water Valley, Miss, expect to pay around $5,093 for treatment. But if you happen to be in Philadelphia when you get sick, your bill may be a whopping $124,000. Yes, for the same treatment!

Now that this hospital data has come to light, health care consumers have more tools to help them shop for the best bargains for their health care. Just because a hospital is just down the street and you’ve always gone there doesn’t mean it’s your best option.

Research the quality measures of the hospitals in your area with Hospital Compare, a Medicare website that gives you detailed information about individual hospitals and lets you compare everything from patient survey results to the rates of readmission, complications and death.

Learn about your doctors thru state medical board websites, and even online patient surveys. Know your doctors and know your hospitals. Your physical, emotional, and financial well-being may depend on it.

*Source: WashingtonPost.com.

Read more posts by Maria Hester, M.D., here. Dr. Hester blogs for JenningsWire.