American Morning

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April 28th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Prescription for Waste: Should states regulate hospital rates?

Editor's Note: Tomorrow on American Morning, we'll show you a medical clinic where a bold experiment is panning out. Doctors are happier and patients and bottom lines are healthier. Our Elizabeth Cohen profiles what could be the proto-type for health care of the future.

(CNN) – Would you shop in a store where they charge three times more than their cost for everything they sell? Not likely. But that's what thousands of Americans are doing every day when they check into a hospital.

Hospitals in this country, on average, charge 180% above cost for every procedure performed. Except in Maryland, where state regulation means patients pay a lot less, and often get more. Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen reports for part three of our original series, "Prescription for Waste."

Sound off: Share your health care horror stories with us. Post your comments below.

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Scott

    The whole medical industry is at fault, not just insurance companies. I was charged $50 for five pain pills a couple months ago and I know of someone who was charged $13 for something that would have cost .25 at a retail store.

    One can even take it down to the educational system. Many doctors graduate with such high debt that they can do nothing but charge high prices just to pay for their school. The insurance industry is partly at fault but that's just part of the story.

    May 1, 2010 at 10:49 am |
  2. Corey

    Finally some details about the REAL cost of healthcare... You can not get insurance costs to go down until the bills submitted to them by hospitals are controlled...

    April 28, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  3. Kurt w

    You cannot make a rational buying decision with regards to a hospital. If you ask them how much you will have to pay in advance, they will not discuss it. All hospital billing is somewhat a surprise and the consent form forced you to agree to some unknown number. I think the hospital should be required to provide an estimate if asked and it must be within 10% of your final responsibility..........

    Government cannot control hospital charges because government cannot understand overhead.. Government should not set rates.

    Owners of businesses set rates based on their competition and market. Competition sets the rate when the buyer must make a decision.Buyer irresponsibility equals the system that we have developed.

    April 28, 2010 at 1:33 pm |
  4. nancy

    It would be a good place to start. Yes, regulate.

    April 28, 2010 at 11:20 am |
  5. VibeCat

    Back in 2003, I had back surgery. My primary care physician, thinking she was looking out for me during her rounds, added a daily multivitamin to my meds, since she knew I took one every day. I was in the hospital for a total of five days post-op, so I got a total of five mulitvitamins. When I got my itemized bill from the hospital, imagine my surprise when I saw that those multivitamins cost me – get this – $10.59 PER DAY. I could have bought the largest size bottle of a brand name vitamin, in the most expensive store, per day for that price – never mind that I usually get mine generic and in a "club" store or other discount place where I can save as much as possible.

    And, as was said on yesterday's report, the hospitals won't let you bring in your own meds. I told my Doctor in no uncertain terms that if I am ever hospitalized again for any reason, she is not to prescribe any unnecessary medications, and we put a letter in my medical chart in her office to that effect. She was shocked at what they charged me for the vitamins, she said she hadn't known – no other patients had ever shown her that before. It certainly wouldn't have affected my health to have missed a vitamin for five days, but I sure hated the fact that my insurance company paid 80% of that and I had to pay 20% of it.

    April 28, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  6. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    Regulate and doors will close the cost is high because of people with no money illegal immigration is part of the problem .

    April 28, 2010 at 9:34 am |