If you’re scheduled for a stay in a hospital — whether it’s for a planned procedure or an emergency — your city health plan may be billed widely different amounts depending on the hospital. New York City hospitals set their own charges and don’t feel pressure to lower prices since cost is rarely a factor when a patient chooses a hospital and insurance companies bear the cost.
But as health care costs continue to rise, the pressure will grow to have union members shoulder some of these increased costs in the form of higher copays or deductibles.
Hospital costs in our area are among the nation’s highest. A 2020 Rand Corporation study found New York hospitals in 2018 charged an average of 302% of the Medicare reimbursement rate for the same procedures. Never mind that countless studies found higher hospital pricing does not correlate with a higher quality of care.
That’s why the UFT has joined with other unions and health care advocates in the Coalition for Affordable Hospitals. The coalition’s first action was to launch a petition calling on the heads of the five major hospital systems in New York City to agree to fair and transparent contracts with equitable and affordable prices for major employers, including the city. The petition garnered more than 5,000 signatures in less than a month.
The high prices city hospitals charge hurt working families, including those with health insurance. Every dollar that goes toward costs is one less dollar that could have gone to wages for workers and, in the case of government spending, to fund public education and other important public services.