Preying on the sick and hurt? Study shows some hospitals can cause financial illness

2 min read · 7 years ago


When you or a member of your family needs hospital care, you’re
counting on doctors and nurses to make you well. But what if physical recovery
leads to financial pain?

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public
Health and Washington and Lee University recently conducted a study of health care center price markups. The surprising finding: Some
hospitals hike their prices up to more than 1,000 times what Medicare is
willing to cover for the same services and procedures. Want to know if your
hospital is among them? Check out this
list of the top 50 price gougers.

Here are the highlights:

  • Topping the list at number one
    is North Okaloosa Medical Center in Crestview, FL.
  • All but one of the Top 50 are
    for-profit health centers.
  • Half were affiliated with the
    major for-profit health companies Community Health Systems Inc. and Hospital
    Corp. of America.
  • Twenty of the hospitals on the
    list are in Florida.

Co-author Ge Bai, an assistant professor of accounting at
Washington & Lee University, said, “For-profit hospitals appear to be
better players in this price-gouging game. They represent only 30 percent of
hospitals in the U.S., but account for 98 percent of the 50 hospitals with
highest markups.”

Inflated costs aside, employees are showing an increased
interest in voluntary insurance benefits, which can offset the high cost of
health care. They’re a smart option for companies looking to beef up their
benefits options, because premiums are employee-paid.

In fact, a whopping 80
percent of employees report being at least somewhat likely to purchase
additional insurance (assuming it’s affordable) if their employer didn’t
provide the type and level of health insurance coverage they desired.*

And 88 percent of employees at least somewhat agree they
consider voluntary as part of a comprehensive benefits package, 41 percent of
workers know more about voluntary insurance today than they did last year and
64 percent of employees see a growing need for voluntary.*

Combine that information with the fact that 59 percent of employees
are at least somewhat likely to take a job with slightly lower pay but a more
robust benefits package,* and you’ll realize you should check out what
voluntary benefits can do for your workers and your organization. Visit Voluntary Insurance 101 for

* The
2015 Aflac WorkForces Report is the fifth annual Aflac employee benefits study.
The study, conducted in February 2015 by Research Now, captured responses from 1,977
benefits decision-makers and 5,337 employees from across the United States. To
learn more about the Aflac WorkForces Report, visit