Low Medicare reimbursement rates may have more of an effect on the prices New Hampshire hospitals charge commercial plan enrollees than Medicaid reimbursement rates do.
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Health Law and Economics come to that conclusion in a hospital cost-shifting report released by the New Hampshire Insurance Department.
Susan Palmer Terry, a consultant, wrote a second report for the department, on competition in the New Hampshire hospital market.
Analysts at the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies looked at the correlation between hospital rates and factors such as quality and patient public program use.
The UMass researchers — Katharine London, Thomas Friedman, Michael Grenier and Paul Swoboda — prepared their report by studying New Hampshire hospital cost and discharge data for 2009.
The researchers found that, before they adjusted for the severity of patients’ cases, prices at the most expensive hospitals were about 3 times as high as at the cheapest hospitals.
When the researchers adjusted for severity, the severity-adjusted prices at the most expensive hospitals were about twice as high as the prices at the cheapest hospitals.
The cost of an inpatient casemix-adjusted discharge ranged from $6,175 to $13,415.
The cost of an outpatient casemix-adjusted discharged ranged from $343 to $731.
Costs at high-quality hospitals were comparable to costs at low-quality hospitals, but hospitals with high occupancy rates and high percentages of patients with commercial coverage seemed to charge more than other hospitals.
“One reason for this finding may be that hospitals that have higher demand for their beds may command higher prices from insurers,” the researchers say.