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Nurses group: Hospital pricing confusing, arbitrary

Posted: Friday, May 17th, 2013

According to the California Nurses Association Watsonville Community Hospital charges patients 737 percent more than it costs to actually treat them. (Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — A study released Tuesday by the California Nurses Association shows that high hospital charges are discouraging people across the state from seeking medical help and sometimes pushing them toward financial ruin when they do.

According to the report by the California Nurses Association (CNA), Watsonville Community Hospital charges its patients 737 percent more than it actually costs to treat them.

That means for every dollar in services, patients are charged $7.37.

The report also showed that Dominican Hospital boosts its prices to patients by 467 percent over cost.

The numbers were gleaned by CNA staff from this year’s Medicare Cost Reports, a comprehensive annual tally by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of all services provided by U.S. hospitals.

“Hundreds of California hospitals are engaged in disgraceful price gouging,” said Deborah Burger, a registered nurse and co-president of CNA. “For uninsured patients and their families, it too often results in massive un-payable medical bills that can lead to bankruptcy and financial ruin, or discourage people from forgoing needed medical care because of the high cost.”

For the complete article see the 05-18-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 05-18-2013 paper.

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