I’m still getting the details on this: Washington Hospital and Anthem Blue Cross, the state’s largest insurer, are still negotiating a new contract. If they don’t come to terms by Jan. 7, Anthem Blue Cross customers could find themselves paying out of network prices to go to Washington Hospital.
Major insurers and large hospitals have been haggling all over the country over rates hospitals charge to insurers. Insurers want to keep rates low to keep premiums for continuing to skyrocket. Hospitals lose money on Medicare patients, so they need to charge private insurers a lot to make money.
Some of those rates are kind of shocking. One Fremont resident who had a joint replacement surgery at Washington a few years ago showed me his bill in disbelief. Washington was charging his private insurer $157 for an ice pack.
UPDATE: Just talked to a health care policy professional who said that the health insurers actually pay lower rates than the itemized costs in the bills. That’s a good thing because on the bill, Washington was charging $26 for one pill of generic Vicodin.
If I get his permission, I’ll post the bill here with personal info redacted.
For those with Anthem Blue Cross and a medical condition, it does appear that these negotiations usually go down to the last minute and are then resolved. The same thing happened in December with nearby El Camino Hospital.
Meanwhile, Washington is keeping patients updated on negotiations with a special page on its website.