“Rich” hospitals help drive up cost of health care

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Interesting reading this week in the Raleigh News & Observer. The newspaper is running a five-part series, “Prognosis: Profits” which reveals how nonprofit hospitals are making big money, paying big salaries and saddling some of their most vulnerable patients with big bills. This is driving up health care costs and putting the burden of the sick and injured who cannot afford to pay their bills.

Here’s just a preview of the findings of the series:

Most of them are nonprofits. But many of them, especially the big ones, are making a fortune.

During the Great Recession, their profits have stayed strong, and they’ve raised their prices. Top executives enjoy million-dollar compensation packages as they expand, buy expensive technology and build lavish facilities. Their customers buy the services before they know the cost, and they often don’t understand the bills.

And the hospitals enjoy a perk worth millions each year: They pay no income, property or sales taxes.

These institutions were created with charitable missions. But many don’t look or act like nonprofits anymore. In their quest for growth and financial strength, they have driven up the cost of health care and saddled thousands of patients with bills they can’t pay.


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