The Lucrative Life of a Nonprofit Hospital
By Jacob Goldstein, The Wall Street Journal
Nonprofit medical centers are big business these days. Carilion Health System, in Virginia’s Roanoke Valley, had profits of more than $100 million last year, this morning’s WSJ reports.
Carilion is Roanoke’s dominant health-care player, and it charges high prices for some procedures — $4,727 for a colonoscopy, which is four to 10 times what a local endoscopy center charges, the article says. The area now has some of the highest health-insurance costs in the state.
Critics say big medical centers like Carilion use near-monopoly power to charge high prices; Carilion says it needs to charge more for some procedures to subsidize other parts of its business, such as care for the uninsured. And the hospital says an HCA-owned hospital in a nearby town offers competition.
Carilion has recently started buying up local medical practices in an effort to move to a multispecialty-clinic model. The hospital CEO says this arrangement will cut down on fragmentation and improve care.
But the move has alienated hundreds of local docs, who circulated a petition and launched a Web site. Those who haven’t sold their practices to the hospital say they’ve seen their referrals plummet. (link)
My my. I wonder if these people know they're playing right into the hands of the nationalized health care fanatics.