Washington Post: The cost mark-up at 5 Alabama hospitals for the uninsured among nation’s highest

Decatur
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DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - A report in the Washington Post says several Alabama hospitals are marking up their services by more than 1000% for the uninsured. The report lists what it calls the 50 worst hospitals for cost mark-ups. Several are in Alabama, and one is right here in the Tennessee Valley. But as WHNT News 19 has learned, it may not belong on the list.

The report calls it "price gouging," marking up goods and services provided to uninsured hospital patients by well over 1000% in some cases. Five Alabama hospitals made the list of the worst 50.

They include:

  • Gadsden Regional Medical Center, who the report says marks their charges up by as much as 1190%,
  • Brookwood Medical Center in Birmingham,
  • Riverview Regional Medical Center in Gadsden,
  • Stringfellow Hospital in Anniston, and
  • Decatur Morgan Hospital's Parkway Medical Center campus.

The report says the millions of Americans who don't have health care insurance are among the most vulnerable to these inflated charges. Their skyrocketing medical bills can lead to personal bankruptcy, damaged credit scores, and even to them avoiding needed medical care.

Leigh Hays, spokesperson for Decatur Morgan Hospitals, tells us they really don't belong on the list. She says, "The Parkway Campus was owned by another entity at the time the research was done (for this report) and the charges were set by the previous owner."

Hays says once the Parkway Hospital was brought into the Huntsville Hospital Health System, they began to review and change what they charge, a process she says, "Was completed in January of 2014 and reduced the charges by 58%, which is in-line with most not-for-profit community hospitals."

What the Washington Post story fails to detail is the level of discounted and free services the hospital provides to those who cannot pay, the millions in indigent care the hospital provides. The article does mention that several hospitals take an exception to the report.

A value on the indigent care provided in the Decatur area was not immediately available.

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