The history behind hospitals is a long, complicated history. Hospitals originally started to help those in their community, now they are one of the major employers in a community. Hospital business produces such a healthy profit margin that a down economy does not seem to affect their bottom line. There are many who need the services that hospitals provide. However, their billing practices have a negative impact on those in the middle class.
Liberty Health Group’s mission is to educate and empower regarding access to affordable health care. Rather than attempt to wrestle with hospitals, we would prefer to highlight the hospitals that are serving their community.
Charlottesville, VA Monticello Community Surgery Center
2331 Seminole Lane, Suite 201
Charlottesville, VA 22901
Oklahoma City, OK Surgery Center of Oklahoma
9500 N. Broadway Ext.
Oklahoma City, OK 73114
Syracuse, NY Crouse Hospital
736 Irving Ave
Syracuse, NY 13210
Another option is to get an estimate of what you might expect to pay by submitting a request on Medibid (https://www.medibid.com/). There is a fee for your request. You will receive estimates of costs from health care providers in the United States and overseas.
A Call for Transparency
Transparency is needed regarding hospital bills. We have become accustomed to stopping at, ‘my insurance covers it’, without even questioning the flow of the health care dollar. Our health care system is one of the only systems our nation has where not seeing is believing and ignorance is bliss. Fortunately, there are hospitals that are beginning to remove the façade in front of prices and become more transparent. Make sure to communicate with your hospital or physician to understand their billing practices and what you are being charged for your visit.
Are prices justified?
It is not uncommon to get a bill from the hospital and there is no explanation for what you are paying. For example, look at the bill to the right from the Emergency room. There is a bill for the emergency room, central supply, and pharmacy injectables. But there is no explanation of what these bills are covering. Most likely, there could be additional bills for x rays and professional bills (doctors who provided care, read x rays, or performed procedures). Hospitals and health care providers should provide a clear explanation of the costs for the services they provide.
Some bills explain what you are paying for. For example, the bill to the right outlines the cost for each item. It is easy to notice the cost of the CT scan. This is an outrageous price! The billing department should hang their head in shame for charging this much. It is time for the government to crack down on hospitals gouging those in the community they are supposed to serve.
Some hospitals and clinics may use their unique list of numbers or codes to identify the services provided. It is appropriate to ask for a clear description of the itemized services. As a member of Liberty Health Group, you may request a letter that may assist you in your pursuit of getting a better understanding of your hospital bills (hospital re-pricing letter).
The migration away from patients paying for their health care bills directly has been so slow that many of you may not realize that health care costs were reasonable 50 years ago. The billing process was simple, and the costs were reasonable. Like the frog that is put into a frying pan, we have been insulated from the real costs of health care. The end result is that many people equate health insurance premiums with health care. The reality is…paying health care premiums is not the same as paying for health care.
Many believe that insurance protects one from the ravages of unexpected hospital bills. A recent report by the Center for Studying Health System Change found that the proportion of low-income, chronically ill patients who were insured but still spent more than 5% of their income on health costs rose from 28% to 42% from 2001 to 2003. The study defined low income as being below 200% of the poverty line, or about $36,800 for a family of four in 2003.
“Bankruptcy is just the tip of the iceberg: 29 million Americans are in medical debt,” says Jennifer Edwards of the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that supports research on health and social issues. A recent Commonwealth study defined those in medical debt as paying bills to health care providers or having large credit card debt or loans against their homes related to medical costs. Of those, 70% were insured when they got the health care that put them in debt, and nearly half had used up all or most of their savings, Edwards said.