Hospital Stays Becoming More Expensive in NW

By Tom Bacon

The cost of hospital admissions in Idaho is rising faster than most states, including Oregon and Washington.  But the total cost of a typical hospital stay in Idaho is still lower than in the other two states.

The information comes from a review of hospital cost trends conducted by America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group.
Between 2008 and 2010, the study found, the cost of a hospital stay in Idaho jumped by 7.9%, from just over $12,000 to more than $14,000. The percentage growth was sixth highest in the nation.

But Oregon was not far behind, with a 7.7% cost growth rate. And Oregon hospitals charged 16-thousand-300 dollars for a typical admission, more than $2,000 above Idaho.

Washington came in at a 7.2% growth rate for the same period, with the most expensive hospitalization costs of the three states - $17,500 on average in 2010.

Part of the hospital cost increases can be attributed to more complicated medical procedures, but the core increases - about 6%  nationally - are roughly double the consumer price index inflation number of about 3.2%.

The trade group study found that health-care consolidation is one of the main driving forces in the rising cost of hospital care. Their report said that when hospitals consolidate and hire formerly independent physicians, they have greater negotiating power and limit competition.

An example - Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and the Federal Trade Commission have teamed up to sue the Saint Luke's Health System in Boise for restraint of trade in buying up a Nampa-based medical group last year.
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