Hospitals are marking up treatments by 1,000 percent to rake in massive, obscene profits from the sick and dying
Many people today are leery of hospitals, often hesitant even to receive care for something as minor as a common cold. With constantly changing insurance hassles, record mix-ups and patients sometimes left feeling worse than when they arrived, it’s understandable. Then there’s the issue of your finances. According to a recent study published in the journal Health Affairs, if you were financially stable before heading to the hospital, chances are, you won’t be after leaving.
The study, conducted by experts from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and from Washington & Lee University who analyzed Medicare cost reports, found that many hospitals in the United States are charging unbelievably exorbitant fees. This isn’t anything minor, either. They noted that 50 hospitals in the country are marking up their medical services to the tune of over 1,000 percent above and beyond actual costs. It’s hitting the uninsured and out-of-network people the most, along with those covered by auto and worker’s compensation insurance.(1)
Try to get healthy, and it’s nearly impossible to stay that way before running out of money (if you can even afford it in the first place). And so the cycle continues, which the study attributes to the fact that many hospitals can charge as they wish. So they do, and it’s ludicrous.
The reason for outrageous hospital fees: experts say it’s “because they can”
“There is no justification for these outrageous rates, but no one tells hospitals they can’t charge them,” said Gerard F. Anderson, a professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management who was involved in the study. “For the most part, there is no regulation of hospital rates and there are no market forces that force hospitals to lower their rates. They charge these prices simply because they can.”(1)
Hospitals with such a “because I can” mentality run the gamut; they’re not just found in one region in the United States. The study’s rundown of such places are outlined in the study, “Extreme Markup: The Fifty US Hospitals With The Highest Charge-To-Cost Ratios,” and include Carepoint Health-Bayonne Hospital in New Jersey, Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute in Florida, Western Arizona Regional Medical Center in Arizona and Lake Granbury Medical Center in Texas. Such a variety demonstrates how widespread this unfair issue is. People all across the country are suffering from health issues, and sadly, going in for treatment may mean they’ll suffer from serious financial setbacks as well.(1)
The study presents the following suggestion to help remedy these insane fees:
Federal and state governments may want to consider limitations on the charge-to-cost ratio, some form of all-payer rate setting, or mandated price disclosure to regulate hospital markups.(2)
Hospitals maintain they’re the ones losing money, justify markups
Still, many hospital executives attempt to justify such markups, saying that Medicare and Medicaid haven’t raised their reimbursement rates to match inflation. Therefore, they maintain that they lose out financially on such patients.
“Clearly, hospitals need to receive sufficient revenue to remain in business, and having revenues that are above costs is necessary,” Anderson and Washington & Lee University’s Ge Bai noted. “This argument, however, cannot completely explain the wide variation in the charge-to-cost ratio… or why some hospitals are charging 10 times their own costs.”(3)
Sadly, this situation has been ongoing and it doesn’t look like it’ll go away anytime soon. Other findings have involved the discovery of an emergency room charging up to $1,500 per stitch or places that want patients to pay $30 for one aspirin.(4)
The medical system is blatantly ripping us off, and it’s an utter shame that it’s costing people their good health. Something is horribly wrong with this backwards picture, and it desperately needs to be fixed. The study’s experts know this; they’ve expressed that they hope these findings will shed even more light on the broken medical system so that change for the better can take place.
Sources for this article include: