‘Facility fee’

Dear editor:

There is a lot of discussion about the increasing cost of healthcare across the nation and also much controversy regarding the growing trend toward adding a separate “facility fee” when a primary care visit is provided at a hospital affiliated medical practice. Warren General Hospital is a part of this growing trend. Each visit to one of their affiliated medical practices generates a bill to the patient and their third party payer for the service provided by the medical provider and an additional bill for the use of a Warren General Hospital facility.

I have at least three concerns about this billing practice:

First, this added “facility fee” increases the cost of healthcare for insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid who are paying this charge, as well as the patients who are paying the two co-pays that may be involved, but of most concern, is the effect on the uninsured patient who is already having a hard time paying just the cost of a primary care visit and is now being billed an additional separate hospital facility use fee as well;

Second, it would seem that the added income from being able to bill for a separate “facility fee” puts independent primary care medical practices at a competitive disadvantage to hospital affiliated practices because non-hospital affiliated medical practices are not allowed to add this additional fee to their bills; and

Third, I can not help but wonder if choosing to add a separate “facility fee” to the cost of a hospital affiliated primary care visit doesn’t call into question the non-profit motive of the hospital.

Respectfully submitted,

Pauline Steinmeyer, MSN