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Hospital charges show huge variance

U.S.News & World Report, April 25, 2012

Acute appendicitis is a common medical condition, but the cost of treating it varies enormously—from about $1,500 to $180,000—researchers report. The median charge in 2009 was nearly $34,000, according to a California study that looked at more than 19,000 patients treated for uncomplicated appendicitis. "Given estimates that 60 percent of bankruptcies in the United States involve catastrophic medical expenses, these data should alarm those making decisions about our society's ability to obtain medical care without financial catastrophe," the researchers wrote in a letter published online April 23 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.