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Hospital Pricing Scandals:
Why do Certain Hospitals Charge Significantly
More for the Same Medical Procedures?



When you’re in need of medical care and end up in a hospital, price is likely the furthest thing from your mind -- that is until the medical bills start rolling in.

For Americans with comprehensive insurance coverage, the true costs of medical care may never really surface for you personally, but for those with high-deductible plans, skimpy coverage or no insurance at all, knowing that you could have had the same procedure performed down the street for half the cost, or less, probably makes your blood boil.

health care costs

Certain hospitals are using their market power to command higher prices, leading to rising health care costs and more expense for YOU.

The truth is, because certain hospitals have a higher market share, they’re able to command higher prices. This market prices can mean you’ll end up paying over $1,200 for an MRI that you could have gotten for under $700 in the next town over, and if have no insurance you’ll likely fare even worse.

According to statistics published in Health Affairs, self-pay patients were charged 307 percent more than the Medicare allowable costs and about 2.5 times more than insurers pay.

But even for those with insurance, hospitals with the greatest market share often charge as much as they can get away with, according to an article by reporter Peter Waldman.

Why are Certain Hospitals More Expensive?

One California hospital, Sutter Davis Hospital, reportedly charges prices that are up to 70 percent higher than those at its neighboring hospitals. And if you were to call your insurance company to find out what those prices may be, they wouldn’t tell you because the prices are kept secret. As Waldman wrote:

“The pricing power of local hospital systems has received scant attention in the search for answers to the nation’s rising medical costs, according to Alain Enthoven, an economist at Stanford University. In 2009, as consumer prices fell for the first time in 54 years, the U.S. health care bill rose by 5.7 percent to $2.47 trillion, a record 17.3 percent of the economy.

“Provider consolidation is driving up health care costs,” said Enthoven. “We need effective antitrust enforcement, and we haven’t had that for some time.””

As it stands, powerful mergers between hospitals and doctor groups, called “accountable care organizations,” are causing prices to rise even higher. Waldman reported:

“Higher prices stemming from hospital mergers that took place between 1997 and 2006 alone add $12 billion to annual health care costs, according to a study last year by Cory Capps, a former U.S Department of Justice economist. Capps, now a consultant, estimated that the ability of powerful hospitals to stimulate usage and the merging of doctors’ groups might be adding another $6 billion to $10 billion.”

Can You Shop Around for Lower Cost Health Care?

To some extent, in some cases more or less, the answer is surprisingly “YES”! If you’re going to be having an elective surgery or other medical procedure, you can go to your insurer’s Web site and look for cost comparisons that allow you to shop around for the best prices at local hospitals.

If your procedure will be performed in a doctor’s office, you can also likely call ahead for pricing information and compare rates with neighboring physicians. Some may even bargain with you if you tell them a doctor down the street is performing a procedure for less.

health insurance costs

Some health insurance Web sites offer tools that allow you to comparison shop for costs at neighboring hospitals.

That said, some hospitals, such as Sutter, do not disclose pricing, making it virtually impossible for you to find out costs ahead of time. And until there is true free market competition between hospitals, it’s unlikely that fair market prices will surface. This is especially true since so many are shielded from health care costs via health insurance, which only allows hospitals to price gouge even more.

As an aside, cost certainly isn’t everything when it comes to your health, so while you’re doing your research on costs, it’s also worth looking into the safety ratings for varying hospitals as well. At you can find ratings for patient safety incidence, doctors, hospitals and nursing homes and use the information to help make an informed decision about where you’ll receive the best care, for the best price.

How to Stay Out of “Sick Care” Hospitals in the First Place

Your best bet to saving money on medical care is to stay out of the hospital as much as possible, a strategy that may be easier than you think.

The key to reducing your risk of chronic illness is prevention, focusing on a healthy lifestyle and developing healthy habits by eating nutritious foods and getting regular daily exercise.
Are you willing to make the positive choices you need to stay healthy?

  • Eat a healthy diet focused on fresh instead of processed foods, without a lot of simple sugars.

As you start adding more fruits and veggies to your diet, you can help maximize nutrient absorption from these nutrient-rich foods using the plant-based enzyme supplement, AbsorbAid Platinum from

This vegetable-based digestive enzyme system combines its effective ratio of proteases, amylases, lipases and cellulases with two "acid-tolerant" bacteria or a probiotic combination, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum, to help break down all food groups and maximize nutrient absorption from the food you eat.

This is easier said than done, of course, so for those of you who need a little help, we highly recommend the Pure Relaxation: Guided Meditations for Body, Mind & Spirit CD by respected meditation expert Mary Maddux.

The guided meditations and music on this CD calm your mind, soothe your emotions and create a state of deep relaxation in your body.

  • Detox regularly.

Every day we’re exposed to chemicals in our food and water, pollution in our air, and emotional stress in our lives. Over time, these toxins accumulate in your body and can manifest as insomnia, fatigue, digestive problems, aches and pains or even chronic disease.

Detoxification gives your body a chance to rest, clear out toxins and become nourished. Generally this is done by first removing and eliminating toxins, then providing your body with healthy nutrients.

You can also support the removal of toxins from your body using HMD,™ the natural heavy metal chelator from Dr. Georgiou, who is the inventor of HMD,™ has been doing pilot studies and says:

“We have been researching the effectivness of HMD in chelating xenobiotics such as bisphenol A and phthalates as we were seeing women with irregular periods for years regulating while using HMD.

Even though heavy metals can play a role in hormonal imbalances, we identified that is very possible that HMD is also chelating these xeno-oestrogens (hormone-mimicking molecules) such as BPA and other chemicals from plastics and cosmetics.

When we ran small pilot studies we indeed found that this was the case and are now seeking funding to pursue this avenue of research with a larger sample of people.”

So if you are concerned about the effects of environmental chemicals, then you should not hesitate to take HMD, which will certainly get rid of a variety of toxic metals and possibly chemicals as well. Use it with all the family -- it is considered a gentle and natural chelator that can be used by all.

  • Get plenty of high-quality sleep.

It’s during this time that your body is rebuilt and repaired. A relaxation CD like the Sleep Easy CD can help you "shift gears" and relax into sleep.

Support your health with nutritional supplements.

High-quality food should be the backbone of your nutritional program, but whole food supplements from Standard Process, which are only available from health care providers, can also be beneficial. Some varieties to consider include:

  • Protefood, a multiple amino acid nutritional supplement that serves as a building block for protein metabolism, is especially useful for those who don’t consume adequate protein.

  • Cardio-Plus, a special combination product containing bovine heart PMG™ extract and naturally occurring Coenzyme Q10. It has been well established in scientific literature that these nutrients are important for healthy heart function.

  • A-F Betafood, which is a good source of betaine. Betaine has been shown to be an effective lipotrophic agent. Lipotrophic agents promote the transportation and use of fats, helping to prevent the accumulation of fat in the liver.

  • Exercise regularly.

According to the National Institute on Aging:

“Regular physical activity may be the most important thing an older person can do to stay healthy and self-reliant. In fact, the more exercise you can do in later life, the better off you’ll be.

Studies suggest regular, sustained exercise can help prevent or delay some diseases and disabilities as people grow older. And, in some cases, it can actually improve some of these conditions in older people who already have them.

In a study conducted at Tufts University in Boston, for instance, some people age 80 and older were able to progress from using walkers to using canes after doing simple muscle-building exercises for just 10 weeks.

In addition, physical activity can improve your mood, lessen your risk of developing adult-onset diabetes, slow bone loss, and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.”

If you’re looking for an exercise program you can do right from your own home, we highly recommend adding SheaNetics from, a mind-body workout, to your exercise routine.

SheaNetics, founded by fitness expert Shea Vaughn, blends ancient and contemporary movements with eastern philosophy, creating a stylized approach to fitness designed to improve the quality of today’s western living.

Shea spent years researching and teaching in the commercial fitness industry and has a first-hand understanding of the physical, mental and emotional benefits of living a life of exercise.

The range of SheaNetics DVD user participants are impressively diverse from 25- to 85-year-olds, men and women, fitness buffs and athletes, people who want to get in shape, those who wish to maintain their present state of fitness and many who want to take it to a higher level.

  • Stay active, socially and mentally.

By reading, doing crossword puzzles, learning new things, working part-time and socializing you can help keep your brain cells strong.

There is a well-oiled circle of relationships that support one another under the pretense of "your best interest,” that are actually looking out for their profits over your health. This includes the hospitals where you end up going for medical care. Instead of waiting until you’re sick, then relying on the sick care system to patch you back up, give your body a fighting chance by leading a healthy, low-stress lifestyle that will keep your body strong and OUT of the hospital.

SixWise Ways!
SixWise Says ...

“It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a Hospital that it should do the sick no harm.”

--Florence Nightingale

Recommended Reading

Studies Reveal Lies, Deceit and Deceptions Causing Deadly Diseases

Why Will “Sick Care” Now Replace Health Care in the U.S.? How Might You Benefit or Lose Out?

Sources August 20, 2010

Health Capital January 2010 Volume 3, Issue 1

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