Hospital Gives Uninsured a Break, USA Today


By Julie Appleby… A large hospital in Mississippi is being sued for overcharging the uninsured. Many hospitals have been charging uninsured patients more than patients with health insurance and taking aggressive measures if they do not pay. You are wondering how this could happen? As one who formerly ran a private practice, I can tell you exactly what is going on, something not mentioned in the article. When persons have health insurance, the health insurance company negotiates (realy nowadays dictates) to the lowly doctor what he will get for payment for each type of approved procedure he does. The doctor can not charge more that this amount. For example, the doctor's charge for a knee arthroscopy with meniscectomy might be 1300 dollars, but United Health care might pay 500 dollars for the procedure, so the doctor has to accept this reimbursement. For an uninsured patient the basic charge is still 1300 dollars, but there is no health insurance company capping the procedure, so the patient could potentially be charged 1300 dollars, more than the patient with health insurance. The same formula would apply to the hospitals, except on a much larger scale as they charge up to 6000 dollars for the hospital bill. National health care would solve this problem more cost effectively than lawsuits in which the attorneys get wealthy. It would provide the same coverage for everyone at the same cost: free.