Why Is Dallas – Fort Worth Health Care Among Most Expensive in the Country?
The Texas price gouging law prohibits a business from “demanding an exorbitant or excessive price in connection with the sale or lease of fuel, food, medicine or another necessity” after the governor has declared a disaster. However some Texas hospitals — three here in the DFW area — apparently engage in price gouging.
Exorbitant healthcare costs are a well-known nationwide problem. However, Dallas ranks among the most expensive, according to a January U.S. Government Accountability Office report. As an example of how much more Dallas hospitals charge, today’s Dallas Morning News reported that the average costs for a hip replacement in Youngstown, Ohio is $19,164.00 — less than one-half of the average $41,129.00 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Recently, a client told me that she was surprised that her ER visit cost her $1,600.00 and was angry to learn that she had actually been charged $16,000.00. Fortunately I was able to get the bill paid by her health insurance company, which is often difficult in these cases, and get the balance reduced to zero. I was then able to negotiate a substantial recovery for her.
The National Institute of Medicine attributed the extraordinarily high prices to strong market power of certain medical chains, which has occured in the DFW area as major health care systems have merged in recent years.
A study published in the June edition of Health Affairs found that Texas General Hospital in Grand Prairie had the highest charge to costs ratio in Texas and the 11th highest in the country. The for-profit facility bills an average of $1,080.00 for every $100.00 of costs associated with a patient’s care.
Four other Texas hospitals were also named to this most expensive list including two other DFW area hospitals, Dallas Regional Medical Center (in Mesquite) and Lake Granbury Medical Center.Two Rio Grande Valley hospitals, Laredo Medical Center and South Texas Health System were also on the list.
Uninsured Most at Risk
Texas hospitals often charge prices that even a person earning six figures couldn’t pay. The Dallas Morning News interviewed an Arlington couple who were charged the outrageous total of $165,240.00 for two brief hospital visits for relatively minor ailments — a respiratory infection and urinary tract infection. This was par for the course for Texas General Hospital that regularly charges patients up to nine times the costs of the treatment, as do several other for-profit hospitals in the area.
In most cases, patients are unable to pay what the hospital charges. Insurance companies generally negotiate on behalf of their policyholders for dimes on the dollar. However, uninsured patients are often left with huge debts that they couldn’t possibly pay, and insurance patients can get stuck with thousands of dollars in deductibles and uncovered costs that insurance companies refuse to pay.
Why You Should Hire A Personal Injury Attorney
A skilled personal injury lawyer fights to get his clients the maximum damages the law allows, then lowers unreasonable hospital and doctor charges to obtain an even larger recovery for the injured victim.