It’s always nice when you discover someone out there is looking out for your well being, but is less comforting to realize there are ways you are being ripped off with little power to do anything about it. This is the case when it comes to hospitals overcharging their patients. The practice is so wide spread that the Washington Post made a point to write about the “Top 50 Hospitals in America that charge patients the highest markup of prices over their actual costs.” Twenty of the fifty hospitals on the list are located in Florida, including Miami’s Kendall Regional.
On average, those hospitals boosted prices over 1000 percent. On average, hospitals across the U.S. hike prices up 300-400 percent. Forty-nine of the fifty hospitals are classified as for profit, and 14 are run by the Hospital Corporation of America, whose former chairman and CEO just happens to be Florida’s governor, Rick Scott. Another 25 on the list are run by Community Health Systems.
Uninsured are a Common Target
Going to a for profit hospital with such high prices might signify that patients live in posh neighborhoods or are accustomed to extra pamper, but this is not the case. Those hardest hit are actually patients who do not have insurance. It is a clear case of price gouging, because there is not any regulation in place to prevent it. The state of New Jersey passed a law that limits markups for uninsured patients to 115 percent. Also, Maryland and West Virginia hospital rates are set by the state.
But that doesn’t help Floridians. For patients that have insurance, the price of care usually winds up being lower because insurance companies and hospital administrations negotiate in order to reduce the bill. State programs, such as Medicare, will also haggle for the sake of dropping prices.
The U.S. is Not Alone
Neither the U.S. nor the medical industry are alone in overcharging disadvantaged persons for essential services. In the UK, the Big Six suppliers of energy who control 92% of the energy supply in the country were found to grossly overcharge customers. Those who think that higher prices would equal better service would be wrong. An investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority revealed that service to overcharged customers was actually “relatively poor.” The hardest hit were customers who stayed on a “standard tariff” plan rather than switching to a more economical option. The Authority found that many of these customers were less educated and struggling financially.
Are There Other Issues?
While overcharging on medical billing matters is unfortunately not something that is regulated in Florida, it is important to ask whether a company that blatantly takes advantage of struggling customers in one area would consistently provide the proper level of service for those same customers. If the practices of the UK power companies is any indication, it is highly possible that they do not.
There are many different scenarios where a medical facility might be guilty of malpractice. Among these is the failure to follow protocols that are designed to save lives, and reduce the severity of injury caused by heart attacks and strokes. That’s why it is important to always evaluate the quality of medical care and ask questions when you feel that something is wrong. It is worth wondering if a hospital that would rip off someone financially might also short change them in other ways as well.
Whether you received medical care in Florida with or without insurance. It is a medical professional’s responsibility to provide you with the best care possible. If that did not happen during your hospital visit, and you have had adverse health effects because of it, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. At Kaire & Heffernan, LLC we do believe in providing quality service to our clients, and have received top ratings from peer reviews and clients. Contact us to discuss your situation, and we’ll help you determine if filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is the right move for you.
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Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 30 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for many years.