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

    By | AFLAC

    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 Businesses.

    * 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 AflacWorkForcesReport.com.

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