Your Heart Attack Bill: $3,300 in Arkansas, $92,000 in California

Well, this is a shocking story from CNN: hospitals across the nation — even those located just miles apart — charge wildly different rates for the same medical procedure:

Encompassing more than 163,000 separate records, the data set will be a gold mine for researchers analyzing the often inscrutable field of health care pricing. Through standardized diagnostic codes, it allows comparisons for similar services provided by different hospitals.

For example, the average bill for treatment for a heart attack without major complications at a hospital in Danville, Ark., was $3,334. Across the country in Modesto, Calif., the same diagnosis incurred an average bill of $92,057.

The New York Times has an excellent interactive where you can compare how much your hospital charges for various procedures versus the national average.

Closer to where I live, Gwinnett Medical Center and DeKalb Medical Center have average costs for all procedures lower than the national average; on the other hand, the Atlanta Medical Center has costs higher than national average for virtually all procedures.

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