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Hospital charges surge over last 2 decades, especially in the ER

Reproduced from Thomas M. Selden, 2019, "Differences Between Public and Private Hospital Payment Rates Narrowed"; Chart: Axios Visuals

The rates charged by hospitals — especially for emergency department care — have skyrocketed over the last two decades, according to a new study in Health Affairs.

Why it matters: While most patients with insurance don't pay these prices for their care — insurers typically negotiate lower rates — those who are uninsured or out-of-network often do.

Between the lines: The ER is a common source of surprise medical bills. It's no surprise that the issue has become more visible as out-of-network patients have received bills for increasingly eye-popping amounts.

Bonus: The same study found that the gap between what private insurers and the government pay hospitals narrowed between 2012 and 2016, after drastically widening between 2000 and 2012.

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