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Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Ethics, Health care

NYT Outs Bayonne Med Center as Highest-Charging Hospital

NYT Outs Bayonne Med Center as Highest-Charging Hospital

An admittedly late notice. (The NYT report was published 5 days ago.)

But the paper provides an important insight into why some high-fee hospitals charge what they charge, especially when they claim that “the charges are irrelevant because virtually no one — private insurers,
Medicare or even the uninsured — pays anywhere near those amounts.”

The hospitals’ defense begs an obvious follow-up: Then why charge such high fees for medical procedures or conditions, if the charges are irrelevant? The answer appears to be two-fold.

1) Uncollected hospital fees could be (or were) counted as tax-reducing charity. (Although this is no longer allowable, per the NYT, which cites the IRS.)
2) Also high-fee hospitals can maneuver to become “out-of-network,” thereby allowing for the collection of relatively steeper, non-negotiated fees from insurers—particularly fees for emergency services.

The latter tactic I find to be particularly diabolical, since area patients are often required to seek care at high-fee hospitals on the basis of their proximity to the facility. It’s easy for such patients to be angry with insurers in these cases, but it appears that high-fee hospitals are really the evil doers in this scenario.

bmartin (80 Posts)

A native East Tennessean, Barbara Martin is a formerly practicing, board-certified neurologist who received her BS (psychology, summa cum laude) and MD from Duke University before completing her postgraduate training (internship, residency, fellowship) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She has worked in academia, private practice, medical publishing, drug market research, and continuing medical education (CME). For the last 3 years, she has worked in a freelance capacity as a medical writer, analyst, and consultant. Follow Dr. Barbara Martin on and Twitter.