For consumers who've long wondered what exactly they were charged for after a hospital visit, the Obama administration today announced a three-part initiative to create transparency in the health care system and give consumers the information they need.

However, there seems to be significant variation in hospital charges for common inpatient services, depending on the region of the country, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). For example, while treatment for diabetes can cost around $26,000 at a hospital in Colorado, that same treatment can cost about $9,000 at a hospital in Alabama. The differences are also apparent within states, with hospitals in some communities charging more or less for the same procedures than hospitals in neighboring cities, HHS said in a press release.

"Currently, consumers don't know what a hospital is charging them or their insurance company for a given procedure, like a knee replacement, or how much of a price difference there is at different hospitals, even within the same city," said HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "This data and new data centers will help fill that gap."

HHS is also offering $87 million in grants to states to fund rate review programs and increased transparency. The hope is that consumers can use this information to make more informed decisions about where to go for their health care needs.