Medical costs vary across state lines

Medical fees

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Thomas Carlyle said, "He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything." But what if the live-saving procedure you need to stay healthy cost too much?

The federal government has maintained a record of costs of the 100 most common inpatient procedures in hospitals across the nation. Those numbers were released to the public, comparing the cost of each to the national average and neighboring states.

What we discovered is that most of the common ailments that were treated in South Carolina matched or exceeded the national average, but in North Carolina, the cost of medical procedures were consistently - and significantly - lower.

If you are admitted to the hospital with breathing problems and your medical team places you on a ventilator, the bill could be as low as $23,044 or as high as $120,888, depending on the location of the hospital. It's the one ailment analyzed that had the widest range of billing costs across the United States. It costs an average of $62, 731.

If that's what you go to the hospital for in South Carolina, your bill will reflect close to the national average, coming in at $63,979. But in North Carolina, your bill will more likely be around $45,134. That's a nearly $20,000 savings just by crossing the state's border.

In this chart you can see how just a few of those common procedures stack up against the national average:


So why do the costs vary so much from state to state?

According to the American Hospital Association, it all varies on both the state and the hospital itself. Each hospital is essentially a business, so it's responsible for setting it's own price based on a base fee called a mastercharge.

As for the state of North Carolina, North Carolina Hospital Association spokesperson Don Dalton says the state's medical fees are below the national average because of widespread cost-cutting measures, allowing each hospital to provide services at much lower prices.

Calls to the South Carolina Hospital Association about how fees in the Palmetto State are decided upon were not returned.

Copyright 2013 WMBF News. All rights reserved.