Original Article

Chargemaster Pricing Variation for Commonly Billed Procedures in Interventional Cardiology

Authors: Richard S. Chaudhary, MD, Amanda Kadesh, MD, Saman Baban, MD, MHS, Aiden Lui, BS, Jeanne Shi, MD, Jai Ahluwalia, BS, Michael White, MD, PhD, Dobie Giles, MD, MS, Timothy R. Petersen, PhD, Adam E. Block, PhD, Craig Basman, MD, Cara L. Grimes, MD, MAS


Objectives: A chargemaster is a database of all of the billable items offered by a hospital with their base price listings. A 2018 executive order required all American hospitals to publish their chargemasters to increase price transparency and reduce healthcare expenditures. Chargemaster listings, however, demonstrate marked variability and inconsistency and have not been associated with consumer benefit. The objective of this study was to analyze chargemasters for commonly billed interventional cardiology procedures across five diverse states to explore relationships between price listings and hospital characteristics, ownership, location, and hospital quality.

Methods: Chargemasters were downloaded from hospitals in five states selected to represent the nation’s healthcare diversity. Price listings for five interventional cardiology procedures (percutaneous coronary angiography, coronary angiography, single-vessel angioplasty, single-vessel stent, and percutaneous coronary intervention of acute myocardial infarction) were extracted. Statistical analyses such as the Kruskal-Wallis test were performed to explore relationships between mean chargemaster price listings for each procedure and hospital characteristics, ownership, location, and quality ratings.

Results: The median mean chargemaster price of four of the five interventional cardiology procedures significantly differed across all states. Price listings were significantly higher in urban versus rural areas and in general acute care hospitals and state government-owned facilities. The highest prices were found with the highest hospital quality rating.

Conclusions: Chargemaster price listings for common interventional cardiology procedures varied significantly across these five states. Urban and metropolitan hospital location, hospital type, and hospital ownership could be factors driving increased chargemaster procedure prices. Prices were highest at hospitals with the highest quality rating.

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