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Aetna's hospital cost comparison Web site

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Aetna launched a hospital cost comparison Web site last month in a step toward health care transparency. However, as reported in iHealthbeat, critics argue that the site is simplistic and possibly inaccurate.

The password-protected Web site provides Aetna members with cost ranges for common procedures at specific hospitals and surgery centers in 11 states and Washington, D.C. The site separates physician fees from facility costs, such as room and board, supplies and anesthesia.

The prices reflect the amount of money that hospitals have agreed to charge Aetna, rather than the billed charges that hospitals quote but few patients pay. The data represent two years worth of Aetna physician claims data.

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