Fresno, Orange County Rank Lowest on Hospital Prices, Study Shows

The Los Angeles Times
Chad Terhune

A pregnant woman in San Mateo could take a limo to Fresno for her hospital delivery and still save money, a new study on California hospital prices suggests.

The typical patient in the San Mateo area was charged nearly $48,000 for a Cesarean birth in 2010 while the average charge in Fresno was less than $13,000, according to a report published Thursday by the California Public Interest Research Group's Education Fund, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization.

The group found that surgery charges were highest in the Alameda and San Mateo areas and the lowest in the Fresno and Orange County regions. The Los Angeles and Ventura areas were close to the state median on surgery charges, according to the report.

"Consumers, whether it's on their own or through higher insurance premiums, shouldn't be paying 250% more for the exact same surgery at different hospitals," said Emily Rusch, state director for the CALPIRG Education Fund.