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Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Patients are getting blindsided by "facility fees" in their hospital bills, a controversial charge that some medical facilities defend as necessary for additional income.

The state of play: Hospitals argue that facility fees help with overhead costs so that care can be provided to sick patients 24/7, all year-round.

  • The Health Care Cost Institute found that facility fee charges nearly doubled from 2009 to 2016, outpacing overall health spending four times over, NPR reports.
  • Hospitals are not legally obligated to give patients a heads up, though some are trying to be more transparent.

Driving the news: In Detroit, a facility fee was responsible for more than half of an insured patient's bill after she had a benign cyst removed from her abdomen, Kaiser Health News reports.

The bottom line: Ultimately, bills come out higher than patients budget for. Critics have called these fees a tax on sick people and argue that there's no formula for pricing.

Go deeper: Hospital lawsuits unearth "cracks in our system"

Go deeper

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia groups was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.

5 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios