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Dispute over importance of release of costs of 100 medical procedures

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - Federal health officials have released figures on what hospitals charge for 100 common medical procedures.

But private analysts say the numbers are meaningless, because they don’t reflect the discounts that insurance companies negotiate.

They say the new government figures are “sticker” prices that are often twice as much as what insurers and patients actually pay. However, the numbers do show that it pays to shop around.

For example, the list price for treating complications of heart failure is $14,000 at Wheaton Franciscan hospital in Franklin – while the same procedure costs $8,000 more at Columbia-St. Mary’s in Milwaukee.

The price gap is even wider for major joint replacements.

The government says they range from $25,000 at Sauk-Prairie hospital to $64,000 at Beloit Memorial.