Photo (cc) by CJ Sorg
Try not to get too sick on your next vacation to Florida.
The Sunshine State is home to 20 of the hospitals with the highest price markups in the nation, according to a new study published in the journal Health Affairs this week.
The authors — Gerard Anderson, a professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and director of its Center for Hospital Finance and Management; and Ge Bai, an assistant professor of accounting at Washington and Lee University — studied the 50 U.S. hospitals with the highest charge-to-cost ratios in 2012.
The authors looked at each hospital’s lists of procedure codes and corresponding prices and compared them with the costs that Medicare allows for such procedures.
Using these Medicare-allowed amounts as a stand-in for costs, the authors found that these hospitals charged an average of 10 times more for a given service than the fixed cost that Medicare would have paid the health care provider who performed the service if the patient had Medicare insurance.
Medicare is a federally subsidized health insurance program generally reserved for senior citizens.
The markups at the hospitals in the study compare with a national average markup of 3.4 times Medicare-allowable costs.
The study explains:
While most public and private health insurers do not use hospital charges to set their payment rates, uninsured patients are commonly asked to pay the full charges, and out-of-network patients and casualty and workers’ compensation insurers are often expected to pay a large portion of the full charges.
Of the 50 hospitals studied, 49 are for-profits, according to the study. Half are owned by the same corporation, Community Health Systems, and and 15 are owned by the Hospital Corporation of America.
The hospitals get away with such markups “because they can,” Anderson tells CBS News:
“There are no market forces and no regulatory forces that keep the prices down. Nobody is telling them that they can’t. [The compiled information] hasn’t been publicly available. They haven’t been shamed.”
The 10 hospitals with the highest average markups are:
- North Okaloosa Medical Center, Florida: 1,260 percent markup
- Carepoint Health-Bayonne Hospital, New Jersey: 1,260 percent
- Bayfront Health Brooksville, Florida: 1,250 percent
- Paul B. Hall Regional Medical Center, Kentucky: 1,250 percent
- Chestnut Hill Hospital, Pennsylvania: 1,190 percent
- Gadsden Regional Medical Center, Alabama: 1,190 percent
- Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center, Florida: 1,150 percent
- Orange Park Medical Center, Florida: 1,140 percent
- Western Arizona Regional Medical Center, Arizona: 1,140 percent
- Oak Hill Hospital, Florida: 1,100 percent