CHARLOTTE, N.C. - North Carolina patients are likely to pay more for services ranging from heart tests to routine office visits if their doctors are employed by a hospital, according to an investigation by the Charlotte Observer and the News & Observer of Raleigh.
The higher charges are part of a national shift that experts say is raising costs for many patients.
The papers' investigation shows that hospitals are increasingly buying doctors' practices, then sending out bills for routine services that are significantly higher than those charged by the formerly independent doctors.
As a result, the same service performed in the same location by the same doctor can cost more than double what it did before the hospital acquired the practice, according to an analysis of Medicare data and insurance claims by the papers.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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