Thursday, June 21, 2018
Business

Health care's hidden costs can take patients by surprise

When a rheumatologist told Linda Drake of Miami that she might have lung cancer, the former smoker discovered a study for early detection and treatment of the disease with researchers in South Florida.

Drake, 57, decided to participate in the study because there was a $350 flat fee, and she could enroll through UHealth, the University of Miami's network of clinics and hospitals.

Drake's visit took about one hour, she said. She saw a technician and a nurse practitioner. About a week later, she received an analysis of the images by a radiologist she never spoke with or met.

The results were negative. Drake breathed a sigh of relief. But a few days later, an unpleasant surprise arrived in the mail: a bill for $210 from UHealth for "hospital services" labeled as "Room and Board — All Inclusive." She had never set foot in a hospital or spent the night at the clinic.

Her health insurance would not cover the fee. Drake was furious.

"It's not just the fee," she said. "It's the way they've gone about implementing it that's offensive."

Drake is not alone. Patients are discovering that — just like baggage fees for air travel and convenience surcharges for concert tickets — some health care comes with hidden costs: facility fees.

These are charges that allow hospitals that own physician practices and outpatient clinics that meet certain federal requirements to bill separately for the facility as well as the medical service provided there.

Consumers are seeing these fees more often as hospital systems build more outpatient centers to create the integrated health care delivery models envisioned by the Affordable Care Act.

The fees are the result of a change in the federal rules that allowed hospitals to bill Medicare for physician services separately from building or facility overhead.

Independent, physician-owned offices and freestanding clinics are not permitted to charge the fees. But federal rules say hospitals that charge facility fees for Medicare patients must do the same for all others.

Hospital advocates and health care groups say the fees are necessary to help defray overhead, pay salaries, meet federal standards and ensure patients' access to emergency services.

Yet there's evidence that consumer anger over facility fees is causing some large hospital systems to reconsider the practice.

Comments
Tampa tech firm Newgentek hiring 20 following expansion

Tampa tech firm Newgentek hiring 20 following expansion

TAMPA — Information technology company Newgentek plans to hire 20 new employees over the next two years following an expansion of its Tampa headquarters."In the last 90 days, the Newgentek team has grown 24 percent and is now operating at 80 percent ...
Published: 06/21/18
A tight supply cuts into Tampa Bay home sales while prices keep rising

A tight supply cuts into Tampa Bay home sales while prices keep rising

Tampa Bay’s two largest counties showed anemic home sales in May as prices continued to rise due to a tight supply. In Pinellas, sales of single-family home plunged nearly 12 percent from the previous May, the second-worst showing in a year. P...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Could Lucky’s Market move in to Clearwater’s old Albertsons?

Could Lucky’s Market move in to Clearwater’s old Albertsons?

Lucky’s Market is considering a move in to the old Albertsons box space in Clearwater, according to preliminary plans filed with the city. Lucky’s master broker, Rick Lewellyn, was listed on an agenda as discussing renovating the existing property wi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Passengers on fatal Southwest flight sue airline and manufacturers of plane and engine

Passengers on fatal Southwest flight sue airline and manufacturers of plane and engine

Eight passengers who were aboard a Southwest Airlines flight that was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia after one of its engines blew apart filed suit Wednesday against the airline, Boeing and the companies that manufactured the eng...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Former employee sued by Tesla says he was a whistleblower

Former employee sued by Tesla says he was a whistleblower

Tesla sued a former employee Wednesday, accusing the man of hacking the automaker’s computer systems and stealing company secrets, shedding light on what chief Elon Musk had suggested was the work of a secretive internal saboteur.But the employee, Ma...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Seminole Heights restaurant Mortar & Pestle files for bankruptcy reorganization

Seminole Heights restaurant Mortar & Pestle files for bankruptcy reorganization

TAMPA — Mortar & Pestle, a fledgling Seminole Heights eatery with a mom-and-pop pharmacy theme, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Seacoast Bank was listed as the creditor with the largest unsecured claim: $1.4 million.The restaurant...
Published: 06/20/18
Developer proposes Sprouts Farmers Market for Land O’Lakes

Developer proposes Sprouts Farmers Market for Land O’Lakes

LAND O’LAKES – A Sarasota developer is proposing to turn a vacant Winn-Dixie store in central Pasco into a Sprouts Farmers Market or similar specialty grocer.Benderson Development filed preliminary plans Monday with Pasco County to redevelop the form...
Published: 06/20/18
Clearwater’s Clegg Insurance Group buys Advanced Insurance Brokerage

Clearwater’s Clegg Insurance Group buys Advanced Insurance Brokerage

CLEARWATER - Clegg Insurance Group of Clearwater announced on Wednesday it has bought Brandon-based Advanced Insurance Brokerage.The merger creates a firm with more than 2,000 customers and more than $10 million in annual premiums. Terms were not dis...
Published: 06/20/18
Wine dinners, beer projects and more will wet your whistle this summer

Wine dinners, beer projects and more will wet your whistle this summer

FILIPINO FOOD: WELCOME CHISMISHave you been to the Heights Public Market at the 73,000-square-foot Armature Works yet? It’s the buzzy food market in Tampa Heights with more than a dozen vendors offering up everything from rolled ice cream to Cuban sa...
Published: 06/20/18
Citizens considers hiking homeowners insurance rates about 8 percent

Citizens considers hiking homeowners insurance rates about 8 percent

Citizens Property Insurance Corp.’s is weighing another round of hefty rate hikes.Staffers with the state-run insurer of last resort have proposed raising the average rates for homeowners by 7.9 percent — just under the legislative cap of 10 percent ...
Published: 06/20/18