Hospitals: Pricing Without Conscience

Our non-system of healthcare is actually a well developed system of revenue production for providers, hospitals, and suppliers.  We’ve talked in the past about doctors in the U.S. doing more procedures than elsewhere, suppliers charging more, insurers only insuring their profits and hospitals overpricing their services.

This adds to data on hospitals.

A hospital in Livingston, N.J., charged $70,712 on average to implant a pacemaker, while a hospital in nearby Rahway, N.J., charged $101,945.

In Saint Augustine, Fla., one hospital typically billed nearly $40,000 to remove a gallbladder using minimally invasive surgery, while one in Orange Park, Fla., charged $91,000.

Read the article for more.

Medicynical Note:  Of course insurers and Medicare don’t pay those prices.  No, the inflated charges are for those least able to afford the bill, the uninsured.  Rather than have an up-front price for services, hospitals, like the proverbial used care salesmen (no disrespect meant) have an asking price from which patients can try to “negotiate” a settlement or as most do simply pay the inflated amount. 

It’s a little like the proverbial shell game.  What’s the price? This? or This? or This?

Hospital’s when the bill is challenged, traditionally do a review of a person’s  financial circumstances and may or may not adjust the amount due based on the hospital’s biased conclusions.  They then claim the reduction, if any, is “charity care.”  This is true for private for-profit and so-called “non-profit religious charitable” institutions as well. 

In all the world, except maybe in some third world situations,  ours is the only “system” that asks the least informed, most desperate customer to negotiate a price for a vital service, healthcare.  It’s part of the reason we pay more than any other country in the world for healthcare. 

Parenthetically, I recently had a procedure for which the hospital bill was $26,000.  The insurer paid $13,000.  What a farce. 

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