Health Affairs has a new report this week about how hospitals recover a higher percentage of their charges from uninsured patients than those on Medicare.
On average, the prices uninsured patients paid in California, from 2004-05, were 20% more than Medicare.
Of course, advocates have tried to deal with this issue in past years — in 2005 securing a signature on AB774 (Chan), which, among other goals, essentially bans overcharging of the uninsured and ties their rates to Medicare.
It will be interesting to see an update on this study looking at rates after the law’s implementation in 2006. We’re getting mixed reports from the field about whether hospitals are properly advising uninsured (and underinsured) patients of their rights to apply for discounted rates, and whether information about the policies are properly posted. We also have no idea if patients are getting the reduced rates.
In the meantime, also because of AB774, the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (yes, it’s a mouthful) has launched its own website on hospital fair pricing. (and yes, we know the URL is really awful and makes no sense) that allows consumers to search hospital discount policies in their area.