States increasingly look to regulate hospital facility fees
Unexpected “facility fees” charged by hospitals have become a growing source of rage for patients, and more states are taking steps to rein them in.
A new report, published by Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms and West Health, examined 11 states that regulate facility fees and conducted interviews with numerous government officials, patient advocates, health insurers, hospitals, and billing experts. The issue cuts through traditional politics, as both liberal and conservative states have made it a priority.
When it comes to facility fees, “there’s a lot states can do to protect consumers from out-of-pocket costs and just help make a segment of our healthcare system a bit more rational than it is right now,” said Christine Monahan, an assistant research professor specializing in healthcare at Georgetown University and lead author of the new report.
Facility fees are the extra charges hospitals bill to patients for going to physician offices and outpatient clinics. Hospitals argue the fees cover their overhead costs, and they usually crop up after a hospital buys the clinic. The services, drugs, and clinic itself all stay the same — the only thing that changes is the ownership.