A patient in Illinois was charged $12,712 for cataract surgery. Medicare pays $675 for the same procedure. In California, a patient was charged $20,120 for a knee operation that Medicare pays $584 for. And a New Jersey patient was charged $72,000 for a spinal fusion procedure that Medicare covers for $1,629.
The charges came out of a survey sponsored by America's Health Insurance Plans in which insurers were asked for some of the highest bills submitted to them in 2008.