AHA Takes Exception to New York Times Article on Hospital Prices

American Hospital Association President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock penned a letter to the editor in last week's New York Times in response to a recent article that highlighted high hospital prices.

Last week, Elisabeth Rosenthal published a story, "As Hospital Costs Soar, a Single Stitch Tops $500." She wrote that hospital care, which represents the single largest portion of the country's healthcare expenditures, has enormously expensive charges, leaving many patients with bills they cannot afford. She gave examples from California hospitals, which are required to post their chargemasters according to state law. She also interviewed patients, including one who received a bill of more than $3,300 for five stitches.

In his letter, Mr. Umbdenstock said hospital billing is complex. Ultimately, it is an imperfect system that supports institutions that have to be open all hours of every day.

"Every hospital is unique, but all shoulder the extraordinary cost of maintaining 24/7 readiness to meet community health care and emergency needs," Mr. Umbdenstock wrote.

High labor costs, low reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid and a growing "regulatory burden" are some of the major factors hospitals consider when they set charges and bills, according to the article. Mr. Umbdenstock also said the New York Times' headline was misleading, as "overall growth in healthcare spending is at historic lows, fueled in part by lower growth in hospital prices."

More Articles on Hospital Finance:
45 Statistics on Moody's Baa-Rated Hospitals in 2012
Study: Lower-Price Hospitals Trigger Price Reductions at Other Hospitals
New York Times Article Puts Hospital Prices Back in Spotlight

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