WMC: Reforms needed to bring down Wisconsin’s 4th highest hospital prices in the country

Wisconsin’s healthcare costs are higher than the national average and a huge driver of those increased costs are higher hospital costs. This puts Wisconsin employers at a significant disadvantage and makes it more difficult for them to provide high-quality, affordable healthcare for their employees. When the Wisconsin Legislature reconvenes in 2023, tackling this issue needs to be a top priority.

The Badger State has the fourth highest hospital prices in the country, paying 307 percent of what Medicare pays – a standard healthcare industry pricing benchmark. This is according to RAND Corporation’s Hospital Price Transparency Study, which analyzed hospital price data between 2018 and 2020 and found that the prices paid by employer-sponsored health plans vary widely between states.

The study found that most of our surrounding states have much lower hospital prices for employer-sponsored plans. Illinois pays 253 percent, Iowa pays 198 percent and Michigan pays 193 percent. Minnesota is closer to Wisconsin, and even they are still lower than us at 292 percent of Medicare.

The data is only worse when you dig in deeper and look at individual hospital systems. In 2020, the relative price for inpatient and outpatient services at Mayo Clinic was 451 percent of Medicare. Mayo Clinic has the highest prices in the state, but other systems are following close behind. Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin prices are at 392 percent, Advocate Aurora Health prices are at 369 percent and Bellin Health Systems are at 365 percent of Medicare.

Read the full op-ed from WMC Director of Workforce, Education and Employment Policy Rachel Ver Velde here.