Monday, February 22, 2010

What does emergency care really cost?

We all have seen the reports of how much it cost to have uninsured people using emergency rooms for general medical problems. But what are these costs really in the sense of the hospital actually losing money?

First off, we’re all aware of the inflated charges assessed individuals using medical facilities. These charges can be as much as ten times what health insurance companies are charged for the same medical procedures. At the very least, for costing statistics, uninsured patients shouldn’t have more than the insurance company rates charged against them as losses to the hospital.

Secondly, for tax purposes, do hospitals use these inflated individual charges for the purpose of tax deductions? Couldn’t in fact the deductions for loss be equal or greater than what the insurance companies would have reimbursed the hospital?

For example – an uncollectable $1000 charge billed against an uninsured patient that would have been billed against an insurance company at $400 could generate a tax deduction for the hospital (a loss to the federal government) of almost that whole $400 at the highest corporate tax rate?

Thirdly, unless the volume of uninsured patients using emergency room services caused more hospital employees to be placed on duty, there are no extra costs for the payroll of regular staff. That money would have been paid to staff even if there were no patients to see.

Are we being misled about the scope of this problem or is it just we don’t care?

1 comment:

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