Patients desert Texas' costliest hospital following pricing report

Texas General Hospital in Grand Prairie may be struggling to attract patients for elective services after a report named it the most costly hospital in the state, reports Dallas Observer.

Last year, researchers from Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., used Medicare data from 2012 to rank the 50 hospitals in the country that charge commercial insurers the greatest markups above Medicare rates. Texas General came in at No. 11, making it the hospital with the greatest mark-up price in the state, according to the report.  

The report found U.S. hospitals on average charged 3.4 times the Medicare-allowable cost in 2012. The top 50 hospitals named in Johns Hopkins' report charged an average of more than 10 times the allowable cost.

Hasan Hashmi, MD, with Texas General told Dallas Observer that despite the hospital's high rates, private insurers are responsible for most of the hospital's income. "Most of our money still comes from the sporadic payments of commercial insurances," said Dr. Hashmi, though the hospital is considered out-of-network by most Texas health plans, according to the article.

The high insurance rates are passed onto patients that receive out-of-network treatment at the hospital, a practice commonly known as balance billing. Patients confronted with high charge rates typically choose to receive care at an in-network facility, where they share costs with their insurer. 

Yet Dr. Hashmi told Dallas Observer for-profit Texas General does not employ aggressive collection tactics to fulfill patient accounts. Instead, he said Texas General's rates have gotten so high because the hospital does not take steps to collect payment from patients.  

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