Surprise, surprise: a new study finds that fifty predominantly for-profit hospitals are charging uninsured patients ten times what it costs them to provide care. WaPo has more:
“They are price-gouging because they can,” said Gerard Anderson, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, co-author of the study in Health Affairs. “They are marking up the prices because no one is telling them they can’t.”
He added: “These are the hospitals that have the highest markup of all 5,000 hospitals in the United States. This means, when it costs the hospital $100, they are going to charge you, on average, $1,000.”
The story emphasizes that the uninsured are the main victims of these mark-ups, since those insured privately or through government programs get discounted rates negotiated for them. However, the bigger hospitals get, the less market leverage even insurers have to bring down prices—and hospitals have been getting big indeed, in part due to the ACA. Though the uninsured have it worst in our hospital-dominated system, we all suffer from the increasing power hospitals have to control prices, and the arbitrary and expensive patchwork system that results. A radical shift away from Big Hospital will have to be part of any sustainable solution to our health care cost crisis.