Maryland publicizes data on procedure cost, quality
Maryland is the latest state to launch a website that allows residents to find out the cost and quality of certain medical procedures.
The Wear the Cost website, which went live Oct. 19, was developed by the Maryland Health Care Commission and gives residents the average total cost of four non-emergent procedures at Maryland hospitals. The state calculated the quality of care for those procedures by breaking down how potentially avoidable complications like infections, blood clots or pressure ulcers factor into the total procedure cost.
“Putting those complications there is really very helpful,” said Bob Moffit, chairman of the Maryland Health Care Commission. “It enables people to make appropriate decisions.”
The data are from Maryland’s all-payer claims database, which includes private insurance claims at the state’s hospitals. Medicare claims data will eventually be included as well.
The four procedures on the site are hip and knee replacements, hysterectomies and vaginal deliveries. They were included because they are usually scheduled in advance so consumers have time to shop around before choosing a facility for their care, said Ben Steffen, executive director of the Maryland commission. The state plans to add more procedures to the site.
The site shows how the facilities with the most expensive procedure costs don’t always offer the best quality. For example, the site shows that the average total cost of a knee replacement at Medstar Harbor Hospital is $37,225 with $1,097 of the cost accounting for potentially avoidable complications. The site also shows that the average total cost of a knee replacement is $22,687 at the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton, and just $353 accounts for potentially avoidable complications.
“Just because you pay more for a procedure doesn’t mean that it’s better quality,” said Marilyn Moon, former chair of the Maryland commission.
MedStar said in a statement that the website is “potentially confusing” because it includes data on entire episodes of care. The data, for 2014-15, also doesn’t reflect changes that have been made at the health system, according to the statement. For example, MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital no longer performs hip and knee replacement surgeries.
The site also highlights how the cost for a procedure can vary by thousands of dollars depending on the facility. Data also show the average cost for a hysterectomy in Maryland is $16,381. But Johns Hopkins Hospital is above that cost with an average of $20,010 for that procedure.
Johns Hopkins also issued a statement in response to the website: “We fully support any efforts aimed at providing transparent information to help patients make informed decisions. We believe that the current site does not yet achieve that goal. We will continue to work with the Maryland Health Care Commission to better understand the data and methodologies they employed, as well as advocate for the inclusion of additional information that would assist patients in making the right choice for health care services.”
The hospital also added that its obstetrics and gynecology team treats the most complex patients in the region.