Hospitals charge the government vastly different prices for the same procedure performed on Medicare patients, CMS data show, and often people who are uninsured bear the heaviest cost burden under the system. Experts say the data fuel questions about how providers determine prices for care. "There's very little transparency out there about what doctors and hospitals are charging for services," said AHIP spokesman Robert Zirkelbach. "Much of the public policy focus has been on health insurance premiums and has largely ignored what hospitals and doctors are charging."

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