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US hospitals overcharging patients ‘because they can’

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The 50 hospitals overcharging patients are marked in the US map.

A new study shows that 50 hospitals in the United States charge uninsured patients around 10 times more than the normal care cost.

Out of the 50, half are run by the Community Health Systems while 14 others are operated by Hospital Corp. of America, the Washington Post reported on Monday based on the study published in Health Affairs.

“They are price-gouging because they can,” said Gerard Anderson, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, co-author of the study in Health Affairs.

“They are marking up the prices because no one is telling them they can’t.”

On top of the list, there stood North Okaloosa Medical Center, a 110-bed hospital in Florida, where the uninsured are charged 12.6 times the real cost.

All of the 50 medical facilities are for-profit entities, except one, while most of them, 20, are in the southeastern state of Florida.

None of the hospitals were particularly located in upscale areas thus their high prices could not be justified based on pricey neighborhood trends.

“These are the hospitals that have the highest markup of all 5,000 hospitals in the United States. This means, when it costs the hospital $100, they are going to charge you, on average, $1,000,” Anderson said.

Those in charge of the hospitals have reportedly questioned the credibility of the findings, arguing that they offer discounts and support for the underinsured patients.

“For-profit players appear to be better players in this price-gouging game,” said Ge Bai, an assistant accounting professor at Washington and Lee University and a co-author.


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