Many St. Charles procedures pricey by comparison

Oregon Health Authority releases findings

OHA study compares health care costs

BEND, Ore. - If you’re a patient at St. Charles Health Systems, your care could be costing more than the state average. The Oregon Health Authority released its annual report comparing prices for about 60 of the most popular inpatient and outpatient procedures for 2015, and Central Oregon's hospitals had above-average costs for many of them.

“(The report is meant to) provide patients, and all of us in this business, transparency about what your average commercially insured patient is paying for a range of services across the state,” Jennifer Welander, chief financial officer for the St. Charles Health System, said Monday.

The new state information compares the median amounts paid for procedures in Oregon hospitals, and also lists the statewide median. Only procedures that were performed at one of Oregon’s 60 acute-care hospitals are included in the report.

St. Charles does not offer every procedure listed, but those it does provide generally cost above the state median, sometimes by a significant amount.

For example, the statewide median for a coronary bypass operation was $83,135, and at St. Charles, the procedure cost $101,902.

Welander said there are several factors behind the higher cost.

“We provide a really broad array of services for patients,” she said, “but we may not provide a high volume of all of those. So we have breadth, but not necessarily depth, and that does cause your incremental cost to be higher than a place where you’re doing a large volume of all your procedures.”

She said the size of St. Charles also factors in.

“We’re not a very big health system, relative to others in the state, so we don’t have the purchasing power to leverage in supply negotiations that others might,” Welander said.

Still, not all of the procedures offered at St. Charles are more expensive. For example, the cost of chemotherapy at St. Charles Bend is actually the lowest across the board, at $12,207, well below the state median of $16,659.

Welander said price transparency is not only good for patients. It also helps the hospital develop strategies and stay competitive.

You can find the full report here (click on the "outpatient" or "inpatient" links for the report with hospital procedure breakdowns):

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