The Washington Post today rounded up the top 50 hospitals in America that charge patients the "highest markup of prices over their actual costs," in effect price gouging customers. And 20 of them are in Florida, which isn't exactly surprising.
Consider the fact that 49 of those hospitals are for-profit centers, and 14 of those are operated by Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). Who is the former CEO and chairman of HCA? Gov. Rick Scott.
These 50 hospitals combined charge on average 1,000 percent more to the patient than it actually costs to provide the service. The average bill for all of the country's hospitals is just 3.4 time more than what it costs the hospital.
Here are the 20 Florida hospitals listed in the research, and the average rate of their markup:
- North Okaloosa Medical Center, Crestview, Fl: 1260% (operated by Community Health Systems)
- Bayfront Health Brooksville, Brooksville, Fl: 1250% (CHS)
- Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center, Davenport, Fl: 1150% (CHS)
- Orange Park Medical Center, Orange Park, Fl: 1140% (operated by Hospital Corporation of America).
- Oak Hill Hospital, Brooksville, Fl: 1100% (HCA)
- Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, Fort Walton Beach, Fl: 1060% (HCA)
- St. Petersburg General Hospital, St. Petersburg, Fl: 1020% (HCA)
- Sebastian River Medical Center, Sebastian, Fl: 990% (CHS)
- Osceola Regional Medical Center, Kissimmee, Fl: 980% (HCA)
- Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center, Panama City, Fl: 980% (HCA)
- South Bay Hospital, Sun City, Fl: 970% (HCA)
- Fawcett Memorial Hospital, Port Charlotte, Fl: 970% (HCA)
- North Florida Regional Medical Center, Gainesville, Fl: 960% (HCA)
- Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute, Fort Pierce, Fl: 960% (HCA)
- Brandon Regional Hospital, Brandon, Fl: 960% (HCA)
- Lehigh Regional Medical Center, Lehigh Acres, Fl: 950% (CHS)
- Twin Cities Hospital, Niceville, Fl: 950% (HCA)
- Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, Hudson, Fl: 940% (HCA)
- Bayfront Health Dade City, Dade City, Fl: 930% (CHS)
- Kendall Regional Medical Center, Kendall, Fl: 920% (HCA)
For patients with good insurance accepted by the hospital, this means little to their out-of-pocket cost. Their insurance companies have likely already negotiated a lower price. It's the uninsured who wind up at these hospitals that end up getting gouged. Patients who end up at these hospitals with insurance premiums that do not include these facilities in their preferred circle of hospitals or those using worker's comp or automobile insurance benefits can also get screwed.
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However, numerous administrators for these hospitals tell the Post that few patients actually end up paying full price and that discounts are offered to the low income and uninsured.
But why do these hospitals have such high prices to begin with? Well, the federal government has no laws regulating hospital costs, though some states do. Florida doesn't have such in-depth regulation. That kind of reform is unlikely to come anytime soon as along as the former CEO of HCA remains governor.
Scott resigned from the company in 1997 after HCA was hit the largest medicare fraud fine settlement in American history. The people of Florida have now elected him governor twice.