How US Hospitals Rip Americans Off with Price Gouging, But Never Get Blamed

| by Michael Allen

For months, Obamacare has been blamed for every hike in health care costs and has provided the ideal whipping boy for the actions of the health insurance and medical industries.

However, it's impossible to blame Obamacare (again) for skyrocketing costs and the enormous profits of US hospitals.

According to a recent study by National Nurses United, prices for hospital services have been shooting up since the 1990s, long before Barack Obama ever sought any political office.

Americans are often told by Republicans and corporate America that the free markets will magically bring down prices via competition, but that's clearly not true, according to this study published on Monday.

Mother Jones notes that the study found that many US hospitals are price-gouging Americans by charging them for procedures and products at 10 times the actual cost.

The 100 most expensive American hospitals actually charged a whopping $765 for every $100 of actual costs in 2011.

In that same year, US hospitals earned $53 billion in profits compared to 2009's $34 billion.

"The skyrocketing prices make premiums, co-pays and deductibles go up," Charles Idelson, a spokesman for National Nurses Unite, told Mother Jones. "Lets be clear, this is price gouging and the hospitals are doing it because they want to increase their profits."

This price gouging has resulted in many Americans not getting medical treatment.

"Our nurses all the time see patients skipping medical care that is necessary for them because they can't afford the high cost of what they’re being charged" added Idelson.

However, government-run hospitals, which are often demonized by the GOP as "evil socialism," don't gouge consumers as much.

"Public oversight and regulation seems to help constrain excessive pricing," says the National Nurses United study.

According to a 2013 study by the Commonwealth Fund, America is in far worse shape when it comes to medical care and cost than other industrialized nations:

A survey conducted in 11 countries finds that U.S. adults are significantly more likely than their counterparts to forgo health care because of the cost, to have difficulty paying for care even when they have insurance , and to deal with time consuming insurance issues.

In 2013, more than one - third (37%) of U.S. adults went without recommended care, did not see a doctor when they were sick, or failed to fill prescriptions because of costs, compared with as few as 4 percent to 6 percent in the United Kingdom and Sweden.

Sources: National Nurses United, Mother Jones, Commonwealth Fund