Statement for ABC News on Hospital Billing
PRESIDENT AND CEO
AMERICAN HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION
November 18, 2013
Hospital bills vary by region, community and individual facility and represent mainly the unique needs of each patient. But, each bill also reflects the hospital’s cost of care for other patients who are unable to pay, and for the shortfall in Medicare and Medicaid payments that reimburse hospitals less than the cost of providing care and account for over half of hospital revenues –
60 percent of all hospital patients rely on these government programs. Bills also reflect the cost of maintaining 24/7 readiness to meet community health care and emergency needs. This standby capacity is not explicitly funded, but patients and communities depend on it and expect it to be there when they or their loved ones need it.
Today’s hospital bill is a symptom of a broken payment system. It’s an example of the fragmented nature of our delivery system, in which hospital bills often reflect just one aspect of care. In addition, hospitals deal with more than 1,300 insurers; each insurer has different plans with multiple requirements for hospital bills. Add to that decades of federal regulations and it becomes even more complex and frustrating for everyone.
Hospitals are committed to improving how consumers get information on the amount they will be expected to pay for care. And it will take everyone – providers, insurers and government – working together to provide information to patients that makes it easier for consumers to compare prices. The AHA supports legislation requiring states to publicize charges for a variety of hospital services.