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More Evidence of Health Care Price Variation in California

A new study published in BMJ Open by Dr. Renee Hsia of the University of California San Francisco and her colleagues finds huge variation in the cost of having a baby in California. The amount charged by hospitals for an uncomplicated vaginal delivery ranged from $3,296 to $37,227 across the state, while the charged for an uncomplicated C-section ranged from $8,312 to $70,908. The researchers concluded that the charge variation is “not well explained by observable patient or hospital characteristics.”

The findings of this study are similar to those of our July 2012 report, Your Price May Vary. We found huge variation in hospital charges for the dozen most common surgeries, including vaginal and C-section births—with little relationship to the quality of care or the outcomes.