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Insurer’s files show big cost differences for same illnesses

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Everyone knows that some Medicare patients run up much higher bills than other patients with similar conditions do. Now researchers have looked at the bills for non-elderly patients in UnitedHealthcare plans. The researchers analyzed the cost of care for patients facing asthma attacks, for example, and found that the cost ranged from less than $100 for the least-expensive cases up to $1,500 for the most expensive cases. Huge price gaps remained even when the researchers tried to adjust for differences in how sick the patients were.