Hospital prices 'bleeding families dry,' consumer group says

A new paper from consumer group Families USA accuses hospitals' high fees and misaligned incentives of "bleeding families dry." 

"This paper exposes how the corporate hospital business model has fundamentally transformed into one that favors monopolies and setting high prices at the expense of our health," Families USA Executive Director Frederick Isasi said in a Sept. 15 news release.    

The paper said hospital prices have increased as much as 31 percent nationally since 2015 and are accounting for nearly one-third of U.S. healthcare spending. 

The paper also said seven of the 10 most profitable health systems in 2016 were nonprofits. Each earned more than $163 million in operating profits from patient care. 

In 2018, eight of the 10 highest-paid nonprofit CEOs were from large healthcare corporations, according to the paper. 

The paper also alleges that most hospital claims of engaging in value-based payment are "exaggerated or even misleading."

"Across the nation, the vast majority of hospital payment arrangements are still anchored in fee-for-service economics," the paper stated. "For example, over 1,000 hospitals participating in Medicare’s voluntary bundled payment program continue to receive fee-for-service payments under this model." 

The group urges elected officials to redesign the economic incentives of the healthcare sector, rein in fee-for-service pricing abuses and increase price transparency, according to the release. 

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