Hospital stays in northern California tend to be higher than those in the southern half, according to a new analysis by the Los Angeles Times. Using data from the Office of Statewide Health Planning, the Times found that cost per patient per day was 56 percent greater in the north's largest counties than in the south's.
Leading the way were San Francisco and Santa Clara with an average of $7,300, followed by Contra Costa with $6,900. Sacramento is the fourth highest county at $6,700. In contrast, San Bernardino is the most economical at $3,900.
Times writers attribute the difference to greater consolidation and relative lack of competition in hospital services in the north. For example, Sutter Health, with its huge system of 24 hospitals, 500 doctors in 100 cities, is one of the big players which tends to negotiate higher reimbursements from insurance providers.
Back in April, a Bee investigation concluded that California hospitals overall "are charging insurance companies, and by extension their customers, billions of dollars for expenses not directly related to care. These include new hospital wings, new technology and services for the uninsured."