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Best Hospitals in Arkansas: Most Affordable Hospitals

April 7, 2014
Health, Medical Costs
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As a state, Arkansas is in poor health, coming in next-to-last in national rankings by the United Health Foundation. The state is helping—it passed a “private option” health care law to help lower-income residents gain coverage. But residents still need to know where to find affordable care.

NerdWallet Health built a Best Hospitals tool to help patients investigate the cost of hospital care in their local areas. Using this data, we analyzed the 100 most common treatments at 45 hospitals in Arkansas to find the most affordable hospitals. We asked the following questions:

1) Which Arkansas hospitals offer the highest number of affordable treatments, and where are they located?

2) What are these treatments?

3) How satisfied are patients of these hospitals?

The Most Affordable Hospitals in Arkansas

1. St. Bernards Medical Center—Jonesboro, Ark.

Founded in 1900, this 438-bed general medical and surgical hospital provides affordable care for stroke and hip replacement. Other services include heart surgery, cancer services and women’s health services. St. Bernards is accredited by the Joint Commission and has a 75% patient satisfaction rating.

According to Rebecca Rasberry, a spokeswoman for St. Bernards, “St. Bernards Medical Center provides comprehensive services while consistently ranking as a low cost leader in Arkansas and beyond. It serves as a regional referral center for 23 counties in Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri and has programs of excellence in heart care, cancer care, senior services and women’s and children’s services that are recognized by national organizations that accredit and certify a wide range of healthcare programs. To facilitate quality control and constant improvement in all areas of care, we measure our progress and benchmark results against other facilities of comparable size and scope in the state and nation.”

2. John Ed Chambers Memorial Hospital—Danville, Ark.

Chambers Memorial Hospital has served Danville and surrounding communities since 1956. The nonprofit hospital has 41 private single-unit patient rooms, and offers a range of services, including endoscopy, physical therapy and speech language pathology. It also offers affordable treatments for tuberculosis and appendicitis, and has a patient satisfaction rating of 72%.

3. Baxter Regional Medical Center—Mountain Home, Ark.

This nonprofit hospital is the largest employer in Baxter County, with more than 1,400 employees and 600 volunteers. The facility serves the residents of 14 counties across two states with 268 private beds. Baxter has affordable treatments for asthma and hernia, as well as a range of services that include open-heart surgery, cancer care, partial knee replacements and physical rehabilitation. It has a patient satisfaction rating of 73% and was rated in the top 10% in the nation for gall bladder removal and vascular surgery by the ratings company CareChex.

4. Drew Memorial Hospital—Monticello, Ark.

The sole community provider, Drew Memorial Hospital serves a population of more than 200,000 people in Drew County and six surrounding counties. It completed the first phase of a $40 million modernization plan in 2012, adding 49 inpatient suites, a cancer care center and a sleep disorder center. The second phase will add a surgery center and an inpatient geriatric psychiatric unit. In addition to affordable care for severe anemia and congestive heart failure, its services include wound care, physical therapy and women’s health services. Its patient satisfaction rate is 61%.

5. Magnolia Regional Medical Center—Magnolia, Ark.

Magnolia Regional Medical Center is the sole provider for a 35-mile radius surrounding Columbia County. The nonprofit, city-owned, acute care hospital has been operating since 1939, and in 2010 it opened a new facility to replace the original building. With 49 beds, the hospital offers services for neonatal, pediatric, obstetric, adult and geriatric patients, including emergency, surgical and respiratory services. Patients can find affordable care for stroke and pneumonia, and MRMC has a patient satisfaction rating of 79%.

6. Arkansas Surgical Hospital—North Little Rock, Ark.

Some 92% of patients are satisfied with this physician-owned specialty hospital that performs orthopedic, spine, breast oncology and cosmetic surgeries. It also provides pain management treatments and procedures, offers affordable care for spinal fusion surgeries and has an infection rate of less than 0.2%—far below the national average of 3%. Its nursing staff is Advanced Cardiac Life Support certified, and CareChex rated Arkansas Surgical in the top 1% nationally for patient satisfaction in overall hospital, surgical and medical care.

“Arkansas Surgical Hospital strives to provide high-quality, high value care for our patients. One of the ways we do so is by buying our implants direct from the manufacturer, so we can pass along the cost-savings to our patients. This initiative, called “Arkansas Surgical Hospital Direct” started 2 years ago.” CEO Carrie Helm says, “Taking care of our patients-by providing the best possible surgical outcomes at the best price point possible, is one of the advantages of being physician-owned. We are proud to be leaders in this arena.”

7. Arkansas Heart Hospital—Little Rock, Ark.

When it was established in 1997, Arkansas Heart Hospital was the first heart hospital in the state and the second in the nation. Today, it acts as a training center for physicians from all over the world, and operates six catheterization labs, three heart operating suites and a 24-hour heart emergency center. Angioplasty procedures without stent placement are affordable here, and other services include vascular procedures, cardiac CT and cardiology and catheterization procedures. Patient satisfaction is high at 91%.

8. Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock—Little Rock, Ark.

Providing health care to Arkansas residents for more than 90 years, Baptist Health offers centers for bariatrics, heart health, orthopedics, transplants and women’s health. It also features MedFlight air ambulance services and affordable treatment for dizziness. The hospital’s patient satisfaction rating is 77%.

Says Mark Lowman, VP of Strategic Development for Baptist Health, “Baptist Health is focused on organizational goals that will impact population health, deliver the best patient experience, provide the highest level of clinical excellence, and optimize a high-performing organization through operational excellence. Achieving these goals in the short term will position Baptist Health as the leader of the future in improving the health of Arkansans by changing the way health care is delivered.”

9. UAMS Medical Center—Little Rock, Ark.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences was founded in 1879, and today it is the only academic health center in the state, with 434 beds and a new emergency department, clinical lab and radiology department. The patient satisfaction rate is at 76%, and the angioplasty procedure with stent placement is affordable. UAMS Medical Center programs include the only high-risk pregnancy program in Arkansas, the state’s only liver transplant program and a facility for the treatment of multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. Ranked No. 2 in Arkansas by U.S. News & World Report, it is designated as high-performing in cancer, nephrology and urology.

“The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is implementing two major initiatives that will dramatically improve patient care and take UAMS to the next level as a leader in health care,” says Roxane Townsend, M.D., UAMS vice chancellor for clinical programs and CEO of UAMS Medical Center. “Our electronic health record will integrate inpatient, outpatient and ancillary services into a single system that will improve efficiency and quality of care. Combined with the transition to a patient- and family-centered service line model, UAMS will ensure partnerships with patients and their families to provide the highest quality care in an environment that promotes participation, collaboration and effective communication.”

10. Arkansas Methodist Medical Center—Paragould, Ark.

Arkansas Methodist Medical Center had its beginnings in 1907 as Dickson Memorial Hospital. The name was changed in 2005 to reflect the ever-expanding range of services available. Those services include diabetes care, outpatient surgery and stroke treatment, as well as affordable care in the repair of hip fractures. Arkansas Methodist has a patient satisfaction rating of 68% and was named a top performer on key quality measures by the Joint Commission.


Ranking Hospital Name Location Most Affordable for Common Diagnoses/Treatments Such As: Patient satisfaction
1 St. Bernards Medical Center Jonesboro Stroke, hip replacement 75%
2 John Ed Chambers Memorial Hospital Danville Tuberculosis, appendicitis 72%
3 Baxter Regional Medical Center Mountain Home Asthma, hernia 73%
4 Drew Memorial Hospital Monticello Severe anemia, congestive heart failure 61%
5 Magnolia Hospital Magnolia Stroke, pneumonia 79%
6 Arkansas Surgical Hospital North Little Rock Spinal fusion 92%
7 Arkansas Heart Hospital Little Rock Angioplasty without stent placement 91%
8 Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock Little Rock Dizziness 77%
9 UAMS Medical Center Little Rock Angioplasty with stent placement 76%
10 Arkansas Methodist Medical Center Paragould Repair of hip fracture 68%



Affordability: Using CMS Medicare Provider Charge Data, we calculated which of 45 hospitals in Arkansas has the lowest price for each of the 100 most common medical procedures. We then summed the number of times that each hospital had the lowest price. The data are for services billed for Medicare patients.

Procedures/diagnoses: For the procedures that each hospital was least expensive, we presented the most commonly known.

Patient satisfaction: Patient satisfaction rates were obtained from HCAHPS, a nationally administered survey on patient satisfaction. “Satisfied” was taken to be patients who reported, “I would definitely recommend this hospital” on this survey.

Hospital characteristics: Individual hospital websites and U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals.