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Hospitals Charge $12,500 Per Day, Over $700 Per Stitch

While a lot of blame has been cast on the health insurance industry over inflated prices and access to healthcare, a new New York Times report has found that hospitals are far more responsible for bloated health costs. Among the Times’ findings were hospitals that charged $12,500 per day of inpatient care and over $2,200 for three stitches. According to the report, “Hospitals are the most powerful players in a health care system that has little or no price regulation in the private market.”

The report goes on to note that “In a medical system notorious for opaque finances and inflated bills, nothing is more convoluted than hospital pricing.” Americans spend a total of $2.7 trillion per year in healthcare costs, about one-third of that in hospital charges. Unfortunately, those charges tend to be swollen as the average hospital charges $4,000 for a single day of inpatient care, about five times as much as in other developed states. High end hospitals charge as much as $12,500 per day. The average stitch costs $500 each, often more.

Among other hugely inflated charges, the Times found that the California Pacific Medical Center charges:

  • $36.78 for a Tylenol pill with codeine, worth $0.50
  • $137 for an IV fluid bag worth less than $1
  • $154 for a neck brace worth $20
  • $543 for a breast pump kit worth $25
  • $1,791 for an echocardiogram worth $358
  • $14,110 for a knee arthroscopy worth $2,037

Clearly, a hospital would have to charge more than a pharmacy to cover their overhead. As Dr. Warren Browner, the CEO of the California Pacific Medical Center points out, “They must have highly trained professionals available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They must constantly upgrade to the latest equipment and building standards to meet patients’ expectations and state mandates. They charge paying or well-insured patients more to compensate for others they treat at a loss.”

The Times points out, however, that fees from layers of middlemen are largely responsible for even more inflated health costs. Another reason is the corporatization of the hospital system. “Just as important is that mergers and consolidation have resulted in a couple of hospital chains — like Partners in Boston, or Banner in Phoenix — dominating many parts of the country, allowing them to command high prices from insurers and employers.”

(Photo courtesy of John M. Kimmins)

About the author

Igor Derysh is the Managing Editor of Latest. com and a syndicated columnist whose work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald, Baltimore Sun, and Orlando Sun Sentinel, and AOL News. His work has been criticized in even more publications. Follow him on Twitter @IgorDerysh