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Hospitals Bill 3-to-5 Times Medicare Rate

Data being released by Medicare for the first time allow the public to see just how absurdly inflated most hospital bills have become -- bearing little relationship to what Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers actually pay. The uninsured, those least able to pay, are the only ones who are actually required to pay the charge amount, The New York Times reports.

And there is quite a swing in the totals, even in the same community. The data from 2011 show, for example, that a hospital in Orange Park typically billed more than $91,000 for a minimally invasive gallbladder surgery that brought a $40,000 charge at a hospital in nearby St. Augustine.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.