The consolidation of, well, everything in healthcare is kind of par for the course these days, really. Insurance companies, provider networks, and hospitals are constantly merging or buying each other out, all around the nation. Small, independent hospitals in every state are regularly bought by larger chains, and go from being “Smallville General Hospital” to being “HealthCoName Patient Care Center Of Smallville” all the time.
Given that nonprofit hospitals are tax-exempt, the general view is that their primary focus should be on providing care for those who need it rather than making using the court system to make those patients pay up. Almost all of these hospitals have programs to reduce bills for people living below or near the poverty line, but some are suing poor patients without ever telling them about these options. [More]
Earlier today, healthcare provider MedStar Health, which operates nearly a dozen hospitals in the D.C. area and some 100 clinics, took its network offline after detecting the presence of a computer virus. Now the FBI is investigating. [More]
It’s probably no surprise that now that marijuana is legal in Colorado, tourists are trying it out. However, doctors say they were somewhat surprised by the results of a study which found that out-of-state tourists were visiting emergency rooms more often than residents with pot complaints. [More]
A handful of pharmaceutical investors have been snapping up the rights to previously affordable prescription drugs, only to immediately raise prices to the point where patients now pay hundreds of dollars for a single pill — resulting in huge additional costs for consumers, insurers, and healthcare providers. Not only has this practice drawn the ire of the medical community, it’s also resulted in a Senate committee investigation. [More]
While hospital naming rights have long been up for grabs to big donors, it’s not every day that a healthcare facility is branded with the name of a product that most people associate with being unhealthy. There’s no “Black Tar Heroin Elder Care Facility” or “Stick Your Finger In The Light Socket Cancer Center,” but there is now a Krispy Kreme Challenge Children’s Specialty Clinic. [More]
When a California man checked with the hospital about the copay for his daughter’s treatment, the hospital told him it would $500. Except what they meant to tell him was that his insurance deductible would be $500, but that he’d be stuck with a bill for nearly $4,000. [More]
Gripe as we might, consumers understand that price increases do happen. What’s not as easily understood is how the price for something can go from $13.50 one day to $750 the next — especially when it’s a generic drug used to save lives. [More]
We don’t know about you, but the last thing we want when we go to the hospital is for anyone — not even our loved ones — to shoot video of us. We certainly wouldn’t want to find out that we’re being filmed without our permission by a crew for some cruddy reality TV show. And after one such show actually broadcast the secretly recorded death of a patient in a New York City hospital, it looks like patients in NYC may not have to worry about being caught on camera at your worst. [More]
When a trip to the emergency room is in order, you’re usually in a hurry, because, after all, it’s an emergency. Sitting around waiting to be seen by a doctor can be an agonizing experience for those in need of quick help. While Yelp can’t hurry along those doctors, it can apparently tell you just how long you might expect to be camped out in the hospital E.R. [More]
While some hospitals work to assist patients in paying their unexpected and often expensive medical bills, other institutions have been known to employ aggressive tactics that harshly penalize patients who are unable to pay their medical debts. However, the adoption of new federal rules aims to change the way in which non-profit hospitals handle consumers and their debts. [More]
Most of us know that it could cost us everything we own if we go to a hospital that isn’t covered by our insurance plan. But what if you’re unconscious and have no say in the matter? That’s the case for a Wisconsin woman who owes $50,000 to a hospital that claims she should just pay up and be happy she’s still alive. [More]
While you might think that your health is your own gosh darn business — and it is, to some extent — when you’re wandering out there in the world with an infectious and potentially fatal disease, your health is everyone’s business. So when one man refused treatment and left the hospital, he ended up with police on his trail. [More]
By now we know that every purchase a consumer makes is added to a list detailing one’s spending and life-style habit, which is used to target people for marketing campaigns and other services. But how would you feel if that information was used by your doctors to keep tabs on your health? [More]
There are many accusations of money-grubbing in the health care industry. Most of them are subtle: a preferred medication here, a handshake behind closed doors there. But actually hanging a chart on the wall and proudly color-coding your ER doctors like car salesmen based on how high their admission rates are? That’s about as in-your-face as the pursuit of profit gets.
From diapers to formula to clothing and other infant-care items, newborns are a huge source of revenue to numerous industries. That’s why some of these businesses put together new-mom goodie bags to be handed out at maternity wards, hoping to create loyal customers from the start. Some people are concerned that the practice of including free formula in these bags makes it too easy for a new mom to avoid nursing her child. And according to a new survey, many of the nation’s best hospitals are saying no to the goodie bags. [More]