Health Insurance Group Draws Attention to Rise in Calif. Hospital Prices
As premiums for health coverage continue to rise, the health insurance industry is seeking to draw attention to the escalating costs of hospital care, the Sacramento Bee reports.
America's Health Insurance Plans, an insurance industry trade association, recently released a study finding that hospital prices in California have increased by more than 150% since 2000. For the study, AHIP used data on inpatient revenue from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.
The AHIP study found that prices charged to commercial health plans in the state jumped by 159% between 2000 and 2009.
The rise in prices is more than twice the rate of increase for Medicare and more than eight times the rate of increase for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, according to AHIP.
Challenges Faced by Hospitals
AHIP acknowledged that hospitals and other health care providers face challenges in providing unreimbursed care to uninsured and low-income residents. In addition, low reimbursement rates from Medi-Cal and Medicare can place strain on hospitals.
To adjust for lost revenue, some hospitals shift costs to patients with private health insurance. Health plans say those increased hospital prices then are passed on to consumers through higher premiums.
Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesperson for AHIP, said the studyÂ demonstrates that "there needs to be much greater focus on the underlying cost of medical care that is driving those premium increases."
Reaction From Hospital, Consumer Groups
The Hospital Council of Northern and Central California criticized AHIP's study as an effort to blame hospitals for premium increases.
In addition, the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog expressed concern that health plans might be using hospitalÂ prices and the federal health reform law as excuses for raising coverage rates (Calvan, Sacramento Bee, 12/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.