PRIVATE ROOMS: Hospitals Make Switch to Draw Patients
The fiercely competitive market wrought by managed care is pushing more hospitals to offer private rooms -- at costs of up to $300 a night once enjoyed by only the wealthy -- to all patients, often at no extra charge. Sunday's New York Times reported that the trend is also fueled by more sophisticated life-support technology and projected growth in intensive care, as hospitals look to more space in rooms that can be converted to intensive care units as needed. Notable examples of the trend, the Times reports, include newly built facilities at university hospitals in Chicago and Little Rock, AR, an all-private medical center in Los Angles and a Cleveland Clinic facility in Florida. The move to private rooms may have noticeable benefits: roommate-less patients are less prone to infections carried by other patients, and family members encouraged to stay with patients in private rooms may become more involved in their care. A recent study found "patients recovered faster in a cooperative care unit at New York University Hospital, where family members stay with them in 40 private rooms, compared with patients in traditional units." The cost of the private rooms, estimated at $25,000 more a bed in New York City, is not borne by third-party insurers, who usually reimburse based on a flat, per-procedure rate. But Princeton University's Uwe Reinhardt noted, "Ultimately the private rooms do drive up the cost of health care. But it is amazing how cheap the costs per square foot are compared to the costs of supplies and staff" (Freudenheim, 4/18).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.