Two Local Hospitals Rank Top Ten Most Expensive in the Nation
HERNANDO – Two Hernando County hospitals rank among the top ten in the nation for highest healthcare cost to uninsured and out-of-network patients.
According to a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Ge Bai of Washington & Lee University, 50 hospitals across the nation charge more than 10 times allowed by Medicare. 20 of the for-profit hospital are located in Florida and two of those are located right here in Hernando County.
Oak Hill Hospital ranked 10th in the nation, with an average markup of 1100% over the recommended Medicare cost. We spoke to Rich Linkul, a Representative for Oak Hill Hospital, who was unaware of the recent findings, but said he would look into the issue and issue a statement.
Bayfront Health Brooksville, formerly Brooksville Regional, ranked 3rd in the nation for highest healthcare cost, with an astounding 1250% markup.
FAH President & CEO Chip Kahn issued the following Statement:
The Bai-Anderson paper on hospital charge-to-cost ratios released in Health Affairs today struggles to support implications for health policy reform.
The study does not recognize that the listed hospitals provided nearly $450 million in uncompensated care in 2012 alone. Federation of American Hospitals member companies have been pioneers in creating and implementing programs that provide substantial discounts to uninsured and underinsured patients who cannot cover their out-of-pocket costs. The FAH member companies cited in this study have these programs firmly in place.
A critical limitation of this study, acknowledged by the authors, is its omission of discounts attributable to these programs. Including these discounts would have had a significant effect on the charge-to-cost-ratio reported, and therefore the implications of the study’s results.
Indeed, had the authors instead compared the actual payment-to-cost ratio of these hospitals compared to the national average, they would have discovered virtually no difference between the two groups– 1.3 for the 50 hospitals and 1.2 for the national average. These figures illustrate, in part, the significance of discounts, and more broadly, why a myopic focus on charges misses the mark on what matters and is no justification for the menu of policy options offered.
While we agree price transparency, conceptually, is essential, the transparency the authors call for will not help the average uninsured or underinsured patient. Absent coverage, the true resolution is having programs in place, like those in our hospitals, which offer discounts so that these patients do not have to prioritize concern about their ability to pay over their own health and well-being.
The notion advanced by the authors that hospital charges determine the results of negotiations with insurers is false and misleading. Insurers have tremendous market power and assert this power in arms-length rate negotiations with health care providers.
And there is a puzzling disconnect between the authors’ conclusion that charges drive rising health care spending, and widely known and readily available data. We have experienced a historic slowdown in spending growth over the last five years, while hospital price growth remains at record lows – 0.3 percent in April compared to the prior year.
Indulging the same arguments about hospital charges, over and over again, does not make them more meaningful and does not justify the reforms the authors recommend. It is not the time to embark on the major policy changes suggested, which could have unintended consequences or disrupt recent positive trends, especially for patients.
Correction: RNRF noted in a the original publication that Chip Khan is CEO of Bayfront Health Brooksville. This was an error. Ken Wicker is currently CEO of BHB.
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