New data from National Nurses Unitied, the nation's largest professional association of registered nurses, shows hospitals continue to charge more than ten times their actual cost, reaping nearly $1,200 for every $100 spent.
Florida hospitals rank second only to New Jersey for the highest charge-to-cost ratios in the study. Individually, the state's top-billing hospitals charge over 1,000 percent above cost.
National Nurses United co-president Jean Ross said the inflated practices are pricing Americans out of access to needed medical care and exposing them to bankruptcy.
Six of the nine most expensive hospitals are part of two big chains, Community Health Systems, Inc. and Health Management Associates which are currently pursuing a controversial merger that the association says would further drive up prices. Members will hold a press conference Wednesday morning in Naples, Fl. before a vote of Health Management Associates shareholders, challenging the buyout of HMA by Community Health Systems. They say the merger will create a massive hospital monopoly threatening patient access and quality of care.
Six of the country's nine most expensive hospitals are part of CHS or HMA.
Despite enactment of the Affordable Care Act, hospital charges recorded their single biggest jump, a 22 percentile point increase from fiscal year 2010-2011 to fiscal year 2011-2012 in the past 16 years for which the assoication has analyzed the data.
The ACA actually contains language permitting the IRS to remove a hospital’s tax-exempt status if it tries to charge patients who need financial aid more than the average amount paid by insurers or Medicare, Stephen Brill reported in Time in early December. But the Obama administration stalled on developing the needed rules, and with hospital industry opposition, “no final rules have been issued," Brill wrote.
The association's study was based on publicly available Medicare Cost Reports as of June, 2013, covering the federal fiscal year that ended September 30, 2012.