Hospitals Generally Charge Self-pay Patients Top Price for Care, but Some Providers Now Offer Deep Discounts for Patients Who Pay with Cash
Clinical laboratories and pathology groups may want to review the prices they charge insured patients versus uninsured patients
There is a certain irony in the fact that hospitals and other medical providers typically charge patients without health insurance as much as three times what they charge Medicare or an insured patient. This situation is getting increased media scrutiny, which is one reason why clinical laboratories and pathology groups may want to review their own policies for charging patients without health insurance.
One good study on prices charged to self-pay patients was conducted by Gerard Anderson, Ph.D., a health economist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. His study was funded by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and published in the May-June 2007 journal Health Affairs.
Anderson analyzed 2004 hospital billing data. He concluded that the gap between rates charged self-pay and insured patients has grown substantially since the mid-1980s. “In the 1950s, the uninsured and poor were charged the lowest prices for medical services. Today they pay the highest prices…,” wrote Anderson, noting that self-pay charges often reflect the hospital’s “chargemaster” prices–the top prices used to negotiate discounts with insurers. (more…)