Understanding the U.S. Hospital Costs Report

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) --  It's not a secret that medical expenses can become very costly. The Obama administration released a report this week that shows prices for the same procedure can vary depending on the hospital you choose.

Burr Ingram with Huntsville Hospital says that the figures released in the report do not account for how facilities are paid. "It's an interesting discussion," said Ingram. "But the fact is, we're paid a fixed amount by Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross in Alabama and that's an amount we know upfront."

Ingram says that patients can also be confused by the billing process. He says a majority of the bill is for the people that take care of you at the hospital. "When you look at a hospital bill, you probably won't see 'nurses' on the bill," said Ingram. "You may see equipment, a procedure, you may see a room, but nothing says the people who took care of you, the people who cleaned your room, or the people who made the food you had."

Ingram told WHNT News 19 that the varying numbers in the report are not reflective of the actual cost to the patient. "The report that charges are high," he said, "those are like the sticker prices and really the sticker price, nobody pays."