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Web study says so, but the hospital questions the methodology

Just how pricey is Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side?

A new study by the consumer-advocacy web site NerdWallet ranks Lenox Hill, at E. 77th Street and Park Avenue, as the state's most expensive hospital.

NerdWallet produced the ranking after analyzing the costs of the 100 most common treatments at 50 hospitals throughout the state. Lenox Hill topped the site's survey of the least affordable hospitals in New York; Manhattan's NYC Langone Medical Center came in sixth.

No Manhattan hospitals showed up in the group's "most affordable" list, though Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn did make that cut. A complete list of the group's finding is at .

Napala Pratini, the lead analyst for the study, said the group decided to focus in particular on New York, given that historically the state's health care has been among the country's most expensive. "We've noticed that consumers are increasingly interested in the cost of their care and in shopping around for better quality," she said.

Pratini said NerdWallet chose patient discharge information collected by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The data represents a cross section of private and public sector hospitals.

But she conceded that choosing to measure only patient discharge information produced by Medicare might raise questions about the study's reliability. "While this data is limited in that it includes only charges for Medicare patient discharges, we feel that our methodology provides an acceptable approximation of affordability," she said.

One local healthcare policy expert questioned NerdWallet's exclusive use of information provided by Medicare. "Prices or charges are generally meaningless," said Shoshanna Sofaer, Chair of Healthcare Policy at the School of Public Affairs, Baruch College/CUNY. "Because they are not paid by insurers, who negotiate discounts or like Medicare, that have fixed fees."

A spokesman for the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Hospital System, which owns Lenox Hill, agreed with Professor Sofaer's assessment questioning the exclusive use of prices and charges.

In an email statement, Terry Lynam, a spokesman for North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System wrote:

"Hospital charges have no bearing on the amount hospitals actually get reimbursed by either the government or private insurers, and when it comes to the uninsured, no patients at Lenox Hill or other North Shore-LIJ hospitals end up paying full charges. It's an irrelevant measurement that has no impact on consumers. To resolve confusion in the future, North Shore-LIJ is in the process of migrating to a new billing system that would make charges uniform across the health system."

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