Non-profit hospitals inflating prices for ‘toxic, dangerous’ chemotherapy
Pricing Chemo to Cover Costs
Not-for-profit hospitals routinely charge chemotherapy patients anywhere from two-to-ten times the cost of the common cancer treatment.
This practice, commonly called “cost-shifting,” is justified by hospital officials who say the price inflation helps make up for free care provided to patients who cannot afford it (emergency room treatment, for example).
In an interview with the Charlotte Observer, Carolinas HealthCare System President Joe Piemont said, “The drug itself may just be the vehicle for charging for the services that are provided (elsewhere). We make literally thousands of trades to have it balance.
Hospitals often purchase the clinics of local oncologists and then use the clinic space to offer the same cancer treatments at the inflated rate. On average, hospitals charge about 24 percent more for chemotherapy than the previous oncology clinic
Former private oncologist Dr. John Peterson derided the concept of cost-shifting.
“There is no requirement to pass the savings on to patients, and [the hospitals] don’t,” Peterson said in an interview with the Observer. “These hospitals are driving out the private practices, and they’re becoming the Wal-Mart of health care, squashing the competition, but without the low prices.”
‘Toxic, Dangerous Chemicals’
Despite the fact that smaller clinics offered the same treatments at a reduced rate, the North Carolina Hospital Association justified the markups because of the volatile nature of cancer drugs, stating cancer drugs’ handling costs “far exceed those required for most other medications.”
According to the Observer, the Hospital Association said, “Medicines that treat cancer are toxic, dangerous chemicals that demand the highest levels of trained personnel, specialized equipment and facilities.”
As several studies have shown, chemotherapy and radiation treatments are neither safe nor entirely effective. The poisonous natures of these treatments—as referenced by the Hospital Association—also lead to complications and allow for tumors to develop in the future.
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