How Medical Costs Vary by Region

Data updated 2016-09-21 from CMS.gov
Originally posted 2013-05-17

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (cms.gov) released a report detailing Medicare Provider Charge Data which shows the cost of procedures or DRGs at various hospitals across the US. This really got me thinking about how I could possibly help those in need of one of these procedures and it dawned on me that if I visualized this data, perhaps people could find nearby hospitals that could save them money on the procedures they needed. Here are the basic steps to use the tool below. Please let me know if you find this useful or interesting at all by tweeting me or leaving a comment below.

  1. Select a Procedure (DRG)
  2. Select a state or choose ‘all' (optional)
  3. Select a region or choose ‘all' (optional)

Interactive features

  • Select on color legend “Range of Charges” to filter map and see providers
  • Select points on map to see providers in those zip codes

About the data
Sourced from CMS.gov the data here include hospital-specific charges for the more than 3,000 U.S. hospitals that receive Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) payments for discharges, paid under Medicare based on a rate per discharge using the Medicare Severity Diagnosis Related Group (MS-DRG) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. These MS-DRGs represent more than 7 million discharges or 75 percent of total Medicare IPPS discharges.


  1. This is a great viz and I was literally working on something very similar. One thing that I think would make this very useful for those that want to use it for practical purposes in potentially selecting providers is to put the provider/hospital name on the level of detail. Otherwise, love it. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Ben,

    I stumbled across your blog as a result of reading your News Feed post (cool idea…I’ve never set up a web server before, but it’s something I’d like to try). I believe we met at the one SD Tableau User Group meeting I attended a few months ago.

    In any case, it’s interesting how much fodder this particular data set has provided. Chabot used it in his keynote, and I’ve come across many visualizations that use it. Not only is the data easy to use, but it’s simply shocking how disparate the costs are for the same procedure, often in the same city. So the story inside this data is fantastic. It might be interesting to cross-reference this data with data that rates outcomes per provider, i.e. do some hospitals have higher success rates (or other contextual metrics) that might explain why they charge more?

    Until I seek out that additional data, here’s my take on the base data.


    Take care. Maybe I’ll make it to another user group meeting someday. 🙂


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