Orange County Hospitals Have Higher Prices Than State, National Averages, CNA Study Says
Price markups on a "wide range of medical goods and services" at most Orange County hospitals are higher than statewide and national averages, according to a study released on Wednesday by the California Nurses Association, the Orange County Register reports. The study, which was conducted by Oakland-based Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy, used Medicare data from fiscal year 2002-2003.
The study found that markups are "endemic in the hospital industry nationwide," with "particularly high" markups of up as much as 96 times the cost for prescription drugs, surgery and medical supplies, the Register reports. According to the study, the markups contribute to health insurance premium increases, the Register reports.
According to the study, six hospitals in Orange County -- Los Alamitos Medical Center, Irvine Regional Hospital, Placentia Linda Hospital, Western Medical Center, Santa Ana and Coastal Communities Hospital -- ranked among the 100 most expensive facilities nationwide. All five hospitals are owned by Santa Barbara-based Tenet Healthcare, the Register reports.
Tenet spokesperson Steve Campanini said the data was too old to reflect recent changes to the company's pricing policy and did not reflect actual prices paid by most patients.
Jan Emerson, spokesperson for the California Healthcare Association, said the report was politically motivated. "This is completely just another CNA labor union agenda report," Emerson said.
According to the Register, CNA has "often been in conflict with hospital management."
CNA spokesperson Chuck Idelson said, "If they don't like what the data show, then they should tell their hospitals to lower their charges" (Wolfson, Orange County Register, 9/9).