For many patients healthcare costs are increasing, but erroneous fees are making healthcare more costly than before. Take Lori for example, in 2004, Lori Mill visited a Seattle area clinic for a simple check on her toe. According to Mill, her procedure was 30-seconds and no medication was prescribed, yet she was charged $1,133. Of this $1,133 bill, over $400 of the bill was attributed to facility fees. Mill, just like many patients, was not told that there would be a facility fee. To make matters worse, she would not have been charged a facility fee if she had visited an equivalent clinic in Kirkland.
The Washington State Department of Health quantifies a facility fee as a separate charge in addition to a fee for a physician’s services. Hospitals argue that facility fees are needed to cover various administrative and operational expenses, but the amount collected from facility fees seems too excessive to be deemed necessary. The facility fee is not limited to a hospital setting, but can also be charged to patients seen at hospital-owned clinics like outpatient centers and urgent cares.
Major hospitals generate thousands of dollars off of facility fees. The table below illustrates the revenue hospitals gained from facility fees in 2014. (2015 has not been reported yet)
Beyond being another source of revenue for the medical facilities, the biggest catch is that the burden for paying for these fees falls on patients. For the lucky ones, insurance companies will cover 20%-30% of the fee. The unlucky ones, with high deductibles, get no such relief. High facility fees increase the cost of service up to 3-5 times than compared to an equivalent independent operation.
At Summit, whether you visit our primary care or urgent care, you are never charged a facility fee. We believe in transparency across all areas of our practice. As an independent clinic, we try to make health care as affordable as we can, which means no surprise fees.