Illustration: Guardian Design

Hospitals are gobbling up doctor’s offices – and they’re bringing higher prices to patients when they do, even if a patient never sets foot on a hospital campus.

Enter the “hospital facility fee”: a charge hospitals can add to bills from doctors’ offices, outpatient surgical clinics and diagnostics centers that they own, rebranding them as “outpatient hospital departments”, even if the facility is miles from a hospital campus.

“It’s one of the most egregious examples of hospital financing at the expense of consumers,” said Liz Hagan, director of policy solutions at the United States of Care, a non-profit advocacy group that released a new report on the practice.

The report, “Behind the Bill” argues that “hospitals are at the center of a massive market failure”, where consolidation is driving price hikes for patients.

There is no data on how often people are hit with the charges. But it’s widespread enough that one of US of Care’s own staff members was charged while writing the report – a facility fee of $154.52 was added to a bill for a flu test.

“Ultimately, consumers are […]

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