Kaiser Health News reported yesterday on a study in Health Affairs that some US hospitals charge patients more than 10 times the rates paid by Medicare.
Of the 50 U.S. hospitals with the highest charges, 49 are for-profit institutions, and 20 operate in Florida, and half are owned by a single chain, the study reported.
Yet, not all patients end up paying those charges says Jenny Gold, of Kaiser Health News.
Private insurers, she said, are able to negotiate the sticker price down significantly, and patients paying out of pocket can often negotiate discounts or get charity care if they are low-income.
However, the average U.S. hospital charges a somewhat less staggering sum: 3.4 times the rates paid by Medicare, according to Gold.
But the crux of the article has to do with the hospital chain that owns half of the 20 highest charging hospitals in the country.
That chain is Community Health Systems, a for-profit chain with 199 hospitals. In 2014, the company made $18 billion in profits, 45 percent more than in 2013.
Florida most likely had the most high-charging hospitals because it has an exceptionally high proportion of for-profit hospitals, according to consumer advocates, and North Okaloosa Medical Center, a CHA hospital in the Florida panhandle, was mentioned as having the highest charges of all: 12.6 times Medicare’s rate.
The highest charging hospitals, Gold wrote, besides Florida, were in 13 states, mostly in the South: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Kentucky, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
So when you hear that Florida Governor Rick Scott is suing the federal government to get billions for Florida’s hospitals because he won’t expand Medicaid, you have to wonder if he’s not doing so because he wants to funnel that money to for-profit chains like Community Health Systems.
After all, he did steal millions from the government once before and got away with it. Why should now be any different?
When will people realize our health care system is a scam. I am seeing this in the articles I am reading, the articles I am writing, and in my personal life, but too many of you out there are convinced this is the right way to handle health care. It isn’t.
As I wrote in the following two posts, “We’re No. 1!”, NOT! — Why the US Health Care System is Not the Best in the World and Why Implementing Medical Tourism into Workers’ Comp Could Improve Outcomes, and in, “We’re Not No. 1!” We’re No. 11, we are fooling ourselves when we say we have the best health care in the world. We have the most expensive health care, and health care should not be expensive.
But we continue to bury our heads in the sand and allow men like Rick Scott and others to skim off the top, all the while elderly parents go without the medical care they need and the home care they need, younger people are forced onto sub-standard plans because there are no employers nearby who will hire them and put them on their company plans, or they are ineligible to apply for the exchanges because of politics or IRS rules, as well as many other reasons why other Americans are not completely covered, and are left out of the system altogether.
The real reason behind this mess is simple: profit and greed. The system is built for and on top of, the generation of profit and the process of greed.
Mother Jones magazine also discussed this issue yesterday. Here is the link to its article: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/06/here-are-americas-top-50-health-care-thugs
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