Affordable Care Act / health insurance

Hospitals Often Bill Uninsured the Highest Prices

Going without health insurance is NOT an option!

Insurers negotiate lower rates for same treatment, new data show, with the uninsured charging up to three times as much as patients with insurance. No wonder we have the highest bankruptcy rates in the world. My research at Utah State University on bankruptcy in Utah and that of Levi Pace at the University of Utah confirmed the role of medical debt in personal bankruptcy. Other researchers around the country reported significant decreases in consumer bankruptcy filings once the Affordable Care Act was enacted.

Writing for July 7, 2021 The Wall Street Journal, Melanie Evans, Anna Wilde Mathews and Tom McGinty provide details on a practice of multi-tiered pricing by hospitals. Those who can least afford the care are charged the most, while insured patients pay far less, depending on their specific insurance. This practice of charging wildly different rates based on insured status is nothing new. 

“Hospitals typically charge different customers different prices for the exact same service, with big discounts for some but not others. Those rates—and wide pricing differences—were confidential until Jan. 1, when a new federal rule required hospitals to make prices public. The newly public prices allow
for the first time a comparison of what deep-pocketed insurers pay hospitals versus rates that hospitals set for patients who pay cash. Time and time again, the Journal’s analysis revealed, cash payers are charged among the highest prices.” You can’t afford to be uninsured!

“Hospitals generally offer financial aid, but policies vary widely and can be poorly promoted, leaving many uninsured, who are often also low income, to struggle with unmanageable bills.”

It may take the uninsured hiring a lawyer or professional patient advocate to negotiate an affordable repayment plan.

Hospitals within the same county charge wildly different rates for the same procedures. While that suggests shopping around, ending up in the emergency room with a heart attack or stroke doesn’t allow such prudence.

Just one more reason why we need universal, single-payer health insurance like the rest of the industrialized world.

Source: Financial Planning for Women