Hospitals Found to be Charging Higher Facility Fees Than Surgical Centers

By Consumers for Quality Care, on January 10, 2024

Hospitals Found to be Charging Higher Facility Fees Than Surgical Centers

According to a recent study published in JAMA Health Forum, and reported by Fierce Healthcare, hospital facility fees are 50 percent higher than those charged in similar circumstances by ASCs, or ambulatory surgery centers.

Thanks to price transparency rules that were recently enacted, researchers could review data on over 13,000 facility fees from about 3,600 hospitals and 17,000 ASCs. The study found that on average, hospitals charged a facility fee of $1,530 for a colonoscopy, as compared with the average ASC charge of $989. Hospitals were also found to have charged a 56 percent higher facility fee for a colonoscopy plus a biopsy, and a 61 percent higher facility fee for a colonoscopy with the removal of polyps. According to Ge Bai, a Professor at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the price differences “seem hard to justify.”

Although hospitals are required to make their pricing publicly available, not all the data are standardized in an easy-to-read format for consumers. This is a problem that the Biden administration and lawmakers are working to rectify. Bai believes that the reforms currently under consideration would, if passed, improve how consumers access health care. “If the service is identical, many patients probably aren’t willing to pay more just because it is offered in a hospital,” Bai said, and “once patients are allowed to personally [and] directly benefit from using low-cost options, many patients will do so.”

This study would not have been possible without the federal hospital price transparency law, which is making it easier for consumers to compare prices and know ahead of time what they will be charged for their health care. CQC applauds efforts to improve hospital price transparency and urges increased action and oversight to ensure that hospitals are publishing their data on pricing in a timely, accessible way. CQC also urges providers to put an end to absurd facility fees and urges lawmakers to take on these predatory practices.