Study: Many U.S. Hospitals Mark Up Prices 1000 Percent

This handout photo provided Friday, August, 1, 2014, by Emory University, shows the isolation room at Emory University Hospital set up to treat patients exposed to certain infectious diseases and where an American aid worker infected with the Ebola virus in Africa will be treated in Atlanta. Dr. Bruce Ribner said Friday two American aid workers infected with the Ebola virus in Africa will be treated at Emory University Hospital. (AP Photo/Emory University, Jack Kearse)
This handout photo provided Friday, August, 1, 2014, by Emory University, shows the isolation room at Emory University Hospital set up to treat patients exposed to certain infectious diseases and where an American aid worker infected with the Ebola virus in Africa will be treated in Atlanta. Dr. Bruce Ribner said Friday two American aid workers infected with the Ebola virus in Africa will be treated at Emory University Hospital. (AP Photo/Emory University, Jack Kearse)
This handout photo provided Friday, August, 1, 2014, by Emory University, shows the isolation room at Emory University Hospital set up to treat patients exposed to certain infectious diseases and where an American aid worker infected with the Ebola virus in Africa will be treated in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Emory University, Jack Kearse)

 

(Reuters) – Even the astronomical price markups that consumers regularly pay for, say, wine in restaurants pale beside those in some U.S. hospitals: The price for procedures is often 10 times the cost, according to a study published on Monday in the journal Health Affairs.

Of the 50 hospitals with the highest markups, 49 are for-profit, including 25 owned by Community Health Systems.

Community Health and other for-profits did not respond to requests for explain their markups, but in the past hospitals have said list prices, shown on a “chargemaster,” are irrelevant because “no one” pays those.

In fact, out-of-network patients and the uninsured are often charged list prices, said Dr. Renee Hsia of the University of California, San Francisco, who has studied hospital charges but was not involved in this research. “People do get bills based on the chargemaster, and for out-of-network care insured patients pay a percentage” of chargemaster prices, she said.

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