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In emergency rooms across the U.S., people are charged on average 340 percent more than what Medicare pays for services and treatments, with minorities and uninsured patients bearing the brunt of overcharges, a new study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has found.

The study, published online today in JAMA Internal Medicine, illustrates the need for greater transparency in hospital pricing, says senior investigator Martin Makary, a professor of surgery at JHU’s School of Medicine.

“There are massive disparities in service costs across emergency rooms, and that price gouging is the worst for the most vulnerable populations,” Makary says. “Our study found that inequality is then further compounded on poor, minority groups, who are more likely to receive services from hospitals that charge the most.”

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Image: By Coolcaesar at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15853256

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