Price-Gouging by Doctors and Hospitals : HEALTH REFORM WATCH
When patients are not protected by large private or public insurers, doctors and hospitals charge them astonishingly more than patients with Medicare or managed-care insurance. Some price difference would make sense, because insurers offer providers large volume and economies of scale. But we are not talking about discounts of 10, or 20, or even 30 percent. Providers routinely double, triple, or even quadruple prices for unprotected patients. Such huge mark-ups can only be regarded as price-gouging — exploiting market power to charge prices virtually unrelated to actual cost or market value.
A comprehensive analysis of data hospitals report to Medicare shows that, on average, hospitals charge uninsured patients two-and-a-half times more than they charge insured patients and three times more than their actual costs. In some states mark-ups average four-fold.
Some type of regulatory controls must be enforced if we are all to pay our own way.