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That hospital 'facilities fee'? Our healthcare system in action

October 25, 2013|By David Lazarus

Bob is accustomed to a $50 co-pay whenever he sees the doctor. But a nearly $200 "facilities fee" from a local hospital took him by surprise.

Bob's question: What the heck is a facilities fee?

Welcome to the world of healthcare cost-shifting. This is the practice of doctors and hospitals making people who have insurance pay for those who don't.

ASK LAZ: Smart answers to consumer questions

One way this is done is by wildly inflating the costs of drugs and medical equipment. That $40 Tylenol? Cost-shifting.

Facilities fees are another way healthcare providers boost their bottom line. Basically, they're tacking on a charge just for you having walked in the door. Cost-shifting again.

I'd advise shopping around for the best prices, but let's face it: Most people aren't in the mood for comparison shopping when they're dealing with a health issue.

Hospitals know this, and that's how they get away with these bogus charges.

For more, check out today's Ask Laz video.

If you have a consumer question, email me at or contact me via Twitter @Davidlaz.

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