Officials of Mountain View Hospital in Payson say health-care costs at a new hospital that may be built in Provo would be similar to those at Mountain View - which a recent study shows are lower than other area hospitals.

But Utah Valley Regional Medical Center (UVRMC) questions some of Mountain View's cost comparisons.A health-care cost analysis commissioned by HealthTrust Inc., a national for-profit corporation that owns Mountain View, showed that the Payson hospital charges 13 percent to 16 percent less than Utah Valley hospitals owned by Intermountain Health Care Inc. The study was done by Richard E. McDermott, an accounting professor at Weber State University.

HealthTrust began making plans six months ago for 107-bed hospital in north Provo. The company, based in Nashville, Tenn., owns six hospitals in Utah.

In Utah County, IHC, a tax-exempt organization, owns Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo, Orem Community Hospital and American Fork Hospital.

The study compares 1989 charges for 31 different medical diagnoses, including heart failure, appendicitis and pregnancy.

Delivering babies is one service Mountain View has been talking up lately. Newspaper advertisements and billboards proclaim that "you may pay up to $600 more for delivering your baby at any other Utah County hospital!" Charges are based on vaginal delivery without complications of a normal newborn.

Mountain View, on the average, charges $885 for delivery and $368 for the baby. Average charges at Utah Valley are $1,610 and $440, respectively. Figures are based on the Utah Hospital Association's "A Guide to 1989 Hospital Charges by Illness Categories."

Utah Valley Regional Medical Center officials are questioning the delivery-charge claim.

"We've never been far out of line with their costs. It's really astonishing to see their costs," said Jerry Sorensen, public relations director at UVRMC.

"Health-care costs, in my mind, are all basically the same," said Rod Lisenby, UVRMC chief financial officer. Lisenby said he doesn't understand how costs can be down at Mountain View when average inflation is 15 percent to 20 percent a year. "Health-care costs are going up," he said.

"We didn't invent this data," said Steve Walston, Mountain View chief administrator. "We try to keep ours (costs) down as low as we can."

"What we try to do is charge fairly," he said. "We want to cover our expenses and contribute to the hospital, and we feel these rates do that."

A footnote in the Utah Hospital Association report said Mountain View charges were derived from 81.9 percent of its total discharges.

Lisenby called it "suspect data." He said UVRMC submitted 100 percent of its discharges.

"That's a good sample. Statistically, that's valid," Walston said of the figures submitted by Mountain View.

Walston said the hospital isn't taking a financial hit to charge what it does. "I don't think we lose money on our OB. In fact, I'm sure we don't," he said.

The hospital hopes the less-expensive delivery charges will attract women to Mountain View, which is about 16 miles south of Provo.