[Reblog] When hospitals buy physician practices, patients hit with fees
WSB-Atlanta recently explored what happens when hospitals buy physician practices, which has been happening all over the Atlanta area.
Prices for patients go up.
The same physicians – in the same offices, with the same treatments – start charging more.
“Everything is exactly the same,” said cancer patient Mike Rosenberg.
Except the bill.
Sometimes it’s an “outpatient facility fee.” And sometimes it’s a “treatment room fee.”
And it’s a lot of money – sometimes thousands of dollars, not covered by insurance.
And even patients who are savvy enough to know about these fees before they get the bill have a lot of trouble finding out about them, as Erica Byfield made clear in her strong 3-minute report.…
It’s not unique to Atlanta. She quotes a University of California, Berkeley, studythat found that patients generally pay 10 percent more at hospital-owned practices.
The ACA does include incentives for “vertical integration,” or having doctors and physicians part of one organization. But it’s not supposed to raise costs. It’s supposed to bring them down by improving efficiency, creating economies and encouraging care coordination. (Some of the fee problems actually stem from Medicare billing practices, not specifically the ACA.)
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