Many Hospitals Charge Certain Patients at 1,000 Percent Markup

A new study published in the journal Health Affairs found that the price of a given procedure is often 10 times more than its cost to the hospital. 49 out of the 50 most expensive hospitals in the U.S. are for-profit, and 25 of them are owned by the same company: Community Health Systems. Though hospitals frequently claim such “list prices” are not actually paid by consumers in practice, the report concludes that the uninsured and those being treated by out-of-network providers are frequently charged these high rates.

People do get bills based on the chargemaster, and for out-of-network care insured patients pay a percentage,

said Dr. Renee Hsia, who has done separate research on hospital charges at the University of California, San Francisco.

Workers’ compensation programs and auto insurers (covering medical expenses resulting from an accident) are also made to pay the full amount. This results in higher premiums auto insurance premiums for consumers and higher workers’ compensation premiums for employers who pay in. The 50 most expensive hospitals had an average price markup of 1,010 percent, while markups for the other 4,433 hospitals in the study averaged 340 percent.

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