Oct 1, 2019

Patients blindsided by facility fees in hospital bills

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"

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Hospitals are getting into the housing business

Hospitals have discovered that it's not only better for patients' health if they have somewhere to live, but it's also often cheaper for the hospital to provide housing than a long inpatient stay, USA Today reports with Kaiser Health News.

The big picture: Hospitals across the country are looking at ways to address homelessness, including building their own housing units.

Go deeperArrowOct 3, 2019

The dark side of psychiatric hospitals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Psychiatric hospitals are often the last resort for people suffering from mental illness, but recent news stories serve as a reminder that too often, these hospitals aren't the safe haven they should be.

The big picture: There are plenty of horror stories about mental health patients caught in abusive or predatory situations, but experts say there's really no good data on the quality or safety of psychiatric inpatient facilities, making it difficult to hold them accountable.

Go deeperArrowOct 17, 2019

AI reshapes how doctors treat breast care patients

An algorithm is helping researchers map the medical history of breast cancer patients so they can better predict, treat and maybe even prevent it, The New York Times reports.

The big picture: This database covers more than 100,000 patients over 30 years, from Massachusetts General hospital. That's a lot more data than oncologists can get from clinical trials, the Times notes.

Go deeperArrowOct 25, 2019