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The Most and Least Affordable Hospitals in Tennessee

Nov. 11, 2013
Health, Medical Costs
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Tennessee’s approach to healthcare reform is in a state of limbo. Governor Bill Haslam is questioning his choice to bypass the chance to establish a state health insurance exchange and, at the same time, negotiating with the White House about Medicaid expansion. Regardless of how things shake out, more Tennesseans will gain coverage under Obamacare and will be smart to shop around for more affordable, better quality 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 the 50 largest hospitals in Tennessee to find the most and least affordable hospitals. We asked the following questions:

1) Which Tennessee hospitals offer the highest number of affordable treatments, and which offer the highest number of most expensive treatments?

2) What are these treatments?

3) How satisfied are patients of these hospitals?


The Most Affordable Hospitals in Tennessee


    1. Maury Regional Medical CenterColumbia, TN
      As the flagship hospital for all facilities in the Maury Regional Healthcare System, this medical center serves more than a quarter million individuals in southern Middle Tennessee. Maury Regional was recently named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals by Truven Health Analytics and attained the Everest Award, a Truven designation awarded to a select few of the Top 100 that achieve both high current performance and fast long-term improvement over the past five years. Maury Regional offers affordable treatments for many procedures, including pneumonia, asthma, and congestive heart failure, and 74 percent of its of patients are highly satisfied.


    1. Cookeville Regional Medical CenterCookeville, TN
      Cookeville Regional serves the 14 counties of the Upper Cumberland region. This medical center employs a staff of over 2,000 and more than 150 active physicians. In both 2012 and 2013, HealthGrades ranked this medical center as #1 in Tennessee for overall cardiac care. Cookeville Regional features Club 50 Plus, a program dedicated to providing adults over 50 with health education, referral services, preventative health screenings, and activities. Find affordable treatments here for hip and knee replacement, seizure, and Parkinson’s, among others, as well as a patient satisfaction rate of 76 percent.


    1. Jackson-Madison County General HospitalJackson, TN
      This 635-bed hospital serves 17 counties and is the only tertiary care center between Memphis and Nashville. The hospital contains six ‘Centers of Excellence’, including a heart and vascular center and a rehabilitation center. The heart center offers the only open heart surgery program in rural West Tennessee. The number of hospital beds at Jackson-Madison County General has grown more than five-fold since its opening in 1950, and the hospital now employs a staff of nearly 5,000. With a patient satisfaction rate of 72 percent, this hospital offers affordable treatments for emphysema, appendicitis, and shingles.


    1. Parkwest Medical CenterKnoxville, TN
      With a patient satisfaction rate of 82 percent, Parkwest must be doing something right. 2013 marks this medical center’s 40th year serving West Knox County. Parkwest received High-Performing rankings in gastroenterology, gynecology, and pulmonology from U.S. News & World Report, as well as the #8 spot overall as compared to other hospitals in Tennessee. In 2005, Parkwest opened a six-story tower, adding 214 more beds and 326,000 square feet of new construction. Other features include leather recliners for visitors in the Critical Care Unit, a Childbirth Center with whirlpool tubs, and a 24-hour bistro. Patients with schizophrenia, blood clots in their legs, or heartburn can find affordable treatments here.


    1. Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare SystemMorristown, TN
      This 167-bed hospital boasts 34 specialty areas and a medical staff of 182. In recent years, Morristown-Hamblen added a perinatal monitoring system, Prompt Family Care Sur (an alternative clinic for Hispanic families), and a Prompt Family Care non-emergent clinic. In 2010, the hospital was recognized by Consumer Reports magazine for prevention of central line infections. With a patient satisfaction rate of 71 percent (the same as the nationwide average), Morristown-Hamblen offers affordable treatments for heart attack, chronic fatigue, and stroke prevention and treatment.


    1. Laughlin Memorial HospitalGreeneville, TN
      With a history that dates back to 1939, Laughlin Memorial first laid its roots in a large house converted to a hospital by Dr. C. B. Laughlin. The hospital was first Joint Commission accredited in 1971. It moved to its current location in 1995, and after multiple expansion projects, the hospital now houses 224 beds, the Laughlin Center for Outpatient Care, a cardiac catheterization laboratory, and radiology services that include Tennessee’s first high-field Open MRI. Come here for affordable treatments for stroke, respiratory failure, and fainting, as well as a patient satisfaction rate of 70 percent.


    1. Methodist Medical Center of Oak RidgeOak Ridge, TN
      Originally opened as an Army hospital in 1943, this 301-bed regional medical center employs 180 physicians across 33 specialties. Methodist was ranked #6 in Tennessee and named High-Performing in gastroenterology, geriatrics, nephrology, neurology, pulmonology, and urology by U.S. News & World Report. In addition, the medical center was recognized by as one of America’s safest hospitals in 2009 and 2010 and received the 2012 Platinum Performance Achievement Award from the American College of Cardiology for providing fast care for urgent heart conditions. Methodist pleased 78 percent of patients and offers affordable treatments for anemia, infection of the heart muscle, and complicated cases of heartburn.


    1. Henry County Medical CenterParis, TN
      This community-owned medical center includes a 142-bed hospital, a 150-bed healthcare center that provides residential care and rehabilitative services, an Emergency Medical Service, and additional off-site services. The hospital celebrated its 60th year in 2013—it has grown 200 percent from the 71-bed hospital that was originally constructed in 1953. Henry County Medical Center features a patient satisfaction rate of 75 percent and affordable treatments for vascular operation and complicated heart attack.


    1. University of Tennessee Medical CenterKnoxville, TN
      With a patient satisfaction rate of 83 percent, it is no surprise that U.S. News & World Report indicates this medical center to be High-Performing in 11 specialties and #3 in all of Tennessee. This Level I Trauma Center serves patients from Eastern Tennessee, Southeast Kentucky, and Western North Carolina. It is an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center and a dedicated Heart Hospital. This medical center offers the most affordable treatment for coronary artery blockage in Tennessee.


  1. Fort Sanders Regional Medical CenterKnoxville, TN
    This 541-bed regional referral center is the flagship hospital of Covenant Health, a community-owned health system that includes seven acute care hospitals and one psychiatric hospital. Fort Sanders Regional was ranked #10 in Tennessee and named High-Performing in gynecology and pulmonology by U.S. News & World Report. With 350 active physicians, Fort Sanders Regional was named a Top Performer on Key Quality Measures by the Joint Commission in 2012. This medical center offers affordable treatment for internal bleeding and earned a patient satisfaction rate of 76 percent.


Ranking Hospital Name Location Most Affordable For Common Diagnoses/Treatments Such As: Patient Satisfaction
1 Maury Regional Medical Center Columbia Pneumonia, asthma, congestive heart failure 74%
2 Cookeville Regional Medical Center Cookeville Hip and knee replacement, seizure, Parkinson’s 76%
3 Jackson-Madison County General Hospital Jackson Emphysema, appendicitis, shingles 72%
4 Parkwest Medical Center Knoxville Schizophrenia, blood clots in legs, heartburn 82%
5 Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System Morristown Heart attack, chronic fatigue, stroke prevention and treatment 71%
6 Laughlin Memorial Hospital Greeneville Stroke, respiratory failure, fainting 70%
7 Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge Oak Ridge Heartburn with complications, anemia, heart muscle infection 78%
8 Henry County Medical Center Paris Heart attack with major complications, vascular operation 75%
9 University of Tennessee Medical Center Knoxville Coronary artery blockage 83%
10 Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center Knoxville Internal bleeding 76%


The Least Affordable Hospitals in Tennessee


Ranking Hospital Name Location Least Affordable For Common Diagnoses/Treatments Such As: Patient Satisfaction
1 Saint Francis Hospital Memphis Parkinson’s, stroke, shingles 71%
2 Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett Bartlett Blood clots in lungs, emphysema, dehydration 69%
3 Regional Hospital of Jackson Jackson Heart attack, angioplasty, gallbladder removal 71%
4 Vanderbilt University Medical Center Nashville Hip fracture repair, knee dislocation, schizophrenia 81%
5 SkyRidge Medical Center Cleveland Asthma, appendicitis, hip and knee replacement 62%
6 TriStar Centennial Medical Center Nashville Congestive heart failure, anemia, sepsis 78%
7 TriStar Skyline Medical Center Nashville Dizziness, tuberculosis, drug poisoning 72%
8 University Medical Center Lebanon Stroke prevention and treatment, vascular operation 52%
9 Johnson City Medical Center Johnson City Kidney damage from drugs or disease, pacemaker implantation, fluid in lungs 63%
10 Parkridge Medical Center Chattanooga Angioplasty, hernia, kidney damage requiring dialysis 75%


Learn more about options for health insurance options in Tennessee.


Affordability: Using CMS Medicare Provider Charge Data, we first determined the 50 largest hospitals in Tennessee (of 97 total) by calculating the total number of Medicare patient discharges per year. We then calculated which of these 50 has the lowest price for each of the 100 most common medical procedures, and then summed the number of times that each hospital had the lowest price. For least affordable hospitals, we did the same, but calculated which hospital had the highest price for each procedure. The data are for services billed for Medicare patients.

Procedures/diagnoses: For the procedures that each hospital was least or most 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.

Tennessee flag photo courtesy of Shutterstock.