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Patient worries emerge over chargemasters at Pittsburgh's regional hospitals

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 25, 2014

Once Pennsylvania Insurance Department officials sign off on Highmark's transition plan for separating from UPMC, Highmark members may learn they have more access to UPMC physicians and facilities than they expected — but it could come at a very steep price. They also may soon become familiar with a new term: chargemaster. The chargemaster is a hospital's master list of how much it will charge for services, including every treatment, test, scan and aspirin. But, unlike a restaurant that lists meal prices on a menu, the hospital prices are secret and — almost uniformly — many times higher than what the service actually cost the hospital to provide.