Maybe there is a logical reason why the amount of medical debt is spiraling out of control. And maybe the logical reason is completely illogical.
Hospitals are now required to post their prices online, in an effort to improve transparency and to give individuals more information when making decisions about where to go for treatment. But deciphering that data requires a medical degree, in some cases. But, one organization has combed through the data and found some very interesting information.
For example, why does one liter of IV fluid cost anywhere from $56 in Oakland to $472.50 in New York City? And why does the cost of a blood test cost $61 in New York, but cost $525 in Los Angeles? There appears to be no rhyme or reason to the prices that hospitals are posting on their websites for different tests and procedures.
Further hampering hospitals’ cases is another study that details just how much they have raised prices, compared with other healthcare providers. Between 2007 and 2014, the cost for inpatient care at hospitals rose 42% while physician prices increased 18%. For outpatient care, the cost increase was 25% for hospitals and just 6% for physicians. The study concludes that hospital prices are driving higher costs more than what doctors are charging.
One news outlet reached out to more than two dozen hospital systems and none of them were willing to commit publicly to freezing their prices, similar to the price freeze that drug manufacturers have committed to.