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Friday, June 12, 2015

According to study, 20 Florida hospitals charge uninsured patients 10 times the cost of care

Posted By on Fri, Jun 12, 2015 at 10:57 AM

  • Photo via Attercop311/ Flickr Creative Commons

In a country where the average hospital charges patients 3.4 times the actual cost of their medical expenses, Americans should be concerned about the growing cost of health care, especially in Florida.

Currently in Florida, the threat of breaking an arm or catching a stomach bug can result in a crippling 6 figure hospital bill. 

According to a new research performed by Health Affairs, a healthcare journal focused on policy issues and affordability, there are at least 50 hospitals in the United States charging uninsured patients more than 10 times the cost allowed by Medicare. Florida's hospitals come in number one for highest markups and account for 40% of this list.

The authors of the study, Ge Bai of Washington and Lee University and Gerard F. Anderson of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health explained how this operates in relation to the national average. “In other words, when the hospital incurs $100 of Medicare-allowable costs, the hospital charges $340.” For the 50 hospitals that have a mark-up rate of over 10 times, a $200 charge multiplies into thousands. Often times, patients don't even know the true cost of their medical care until they receive the bill weeks later in the mail. 

The Atlantic reported that the ratio of hospital charges to costs has only increased over time. In 1984, it was just 1.35, but by 2011, it was 3.3, and this figure continues to rise today. Also important to note, all but one facility out of the 50 listed is owned by for-profit organizations affiliated with a larger health system.

  • Photo via Health Affairs

For the residents of Florida who remain among the most susceptible to these outrageous medical expenses, this is the one list we aren't proud to top. The study's authors shed light on the importance of what they uncovered, stating: "Collectively, this system has the effect of charging the highest prices to the most vulnerable patients and those with the least market power. [It’s how people end up with] exceptionally high medical bills, which often leads to personal bankruptcy or the avoidance of needed medical services.”

"That is why we are calling for a new healthcare reimbursement system that offers equivalent rates for all patient encounters regardless of where they live that will make these charges irrelevant,” said Jarrod Bernstein, spokesman for Carepoint Health-Bayonne Hospital, which is ranked second highest on the list. 

The Florida hospitals include: 

North Okaloosa Medical Center
Bayfront Health Brooksville
Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center
Orange Park Medical Center
Oak Hill Hospital
Fort Walton Beach Medical Center
St. Petersburg General Hospital
Sebastian River Medical Center
Osceola Regional Medical Center
Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center
South Bay Hospital
Fawcett Memorial Hospital
North Florida Regional Medical Center
Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute
Brandon Regional Hospital
Lehigh Regional Medical Center
Twin Cities Hospital
Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point
Bayfront Health Dade City
Kendall Regional Medical Center

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