Before the Covid-19 pandemic had taken its toll on Oregon hospitals, average insurance charges for common inpatient and (especially) outpatient procedures were through the roof when compared to the amounts allowable by Medicare for the same services.
So says the Oregon Health Authority in a recent comparison of commercial hospital service prices to Medicare during 2019.
In a story last week, reporter Elizabeth Hayes quoted this statement form OSPIRG Health Care Advocate Maribeth Guarino: “This report demonstrates that hospital prices are out of control. These costs are passed on to insurance companies, who then pass the buck to consumers through high premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. One of the main reasons that Oregonians cannot afford health care is unreasonable and unpredictable hospital prices.
However, the debate rages on about what the real price of hospital procedures should be. A related story quoted a statement from the The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, which said that, “Soaring labor costs are still a major concern as hospitals continue to face severe staffing shortages into the foreseeable future. This comes on top of a problem that pre-dates the pandemic, the inadequate reimbursement rates for Medicare and Medicaid patients compared to private insurance.”
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