The Hospital Cooperative Charge Comparative
- Need: To help hospitals in rural Idaho and Wyoming see how their prices compare to others in the region.
- Intervention: The Hospital Cooperative (THC) completes an annual charge comparative, which lists the highest, lowest, average, and median price for a specific charge.
- Results: THC has offered these reports since 2010.
Cooperative (THC), a 17-hospital network in southeast
Idaho and western Wyoming, completes an annual charge
comparative for its members to see how their charges for
common items like observation hours and room rates
compare to other network members' charges. Hospitals then
can use the data to determine if their prices need to be
lowered to better compete with other hospitals or if they
can raise the price of a certain item to improve their
profit margin, instead of raising prices across the
THC determines which charges to compare, and member
hospitals submit their data. The charge comparative looks
at charges for popular items or procedures such as:
- Room rates for inpatient, ICU, nursing home, swing
bed, newborn, and NICU
- Observation hours
- Physician office visits
- Radiology department services
- Surgery/anesthesia rates
- Lab work
The THC Executive Director collects and summarizes the
data. Hospitals receive a report that lists the highest,
lowest, average, and median charge for each item or
THC has offered these annual charge comparative reports
since 2010. One hospital posts information on its website
when it offers the lowest prices in the region for a
specific item or procedure. The information serves as
advertising for the hospital as well as price
transparency for patients.
Explain the value behind the work to gain staff buy-in.
There is a fair amount of work for the hospitals to
provide their data, but this process only happens once a
year. The CEOs and CFOs have always been interested in
the summary reports, but sometimes hospitals need several
reminders to submit their data on time.
Seek legal counsel to learn how to best protect private
data and prevent antitrust issues. THC's legal counsel
told the network to only publish results for a specific
item if they had at least five responses for that item.
Decide what you want to measure. THC chose the most
popular or commonly used billing items (and in 2020 added
three CPT codes related to COVID-19 and antibody
testing), but you could also choose the top five Current
Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes in each department or
you could measure every code, if you wanted a more
Write clear definitions for each measure. THC determined
which charges to include and how to define them to
achieve apples-to-apples comparison. For example, one
hospital might charge anesthesia services per unit or per
minute. Another hospital might bundle charges.
Healthcare business and finance
August 24, 2018
Date updated or reviewed
September 28, 2022
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub,
The Hospital Cooperative Charge Comparative [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at:
[Accessed 3 December 2023]
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programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural
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in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.