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

Big Tech marshals a right-leaning army of allies for antitrust fight

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

As tech's giants prepare to face off with antitrust enforcers this summer, they will draw support from an array of predominantly right-leaning defenders ranging from influential former government officials to well-connected think tanks.

The big picture: The Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission and the states have multiple investigations of monopolistic behavior underway targeting Facebook and Google, with other giants like Amazon and Apple also facing rising scrutiny. Many observers expect a lawsuit against Google to land this summer.

John Roberts' long game

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is not the revolutionary that conservative activists want him to be.

He moves slower than they want, sides with liberals more than they want, and trims his sails in ways they find maddening. But he is still deeply and unmistakably conservative, pulling the law to the right — at his own pace and in his own image.

2 hours ago - Health

The U.S.' new default coronavirus strategy: herd immunity

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

By letting the coronavirus surge through the population with only minimal social distancing measures in place, the U.S. has accidentally become the world’s largest experiment in herd immunity.

Why it matters: Letting the virus spread while minimizing human loss is doable, in theory. But it requires very strict protections for vulnerable people, almost none of which the U.S. has established.