LANCASTER, SC (WBTV) - Springs Memorial Hospital in Lancaster is ranked among the highest in the nation for hospital charges, according to a study by Health Affairs.
The recently-released report studied more than 4,400 hospitals across the country.
Springs Memorial was the only South Carolina hospital on the list of 50 others that charge more than 10 times the amount of actual patient care costs, the report found.
February 7 is the day Audrey Glasson brought little Braxton into the world. It's an experience she won't forget, much like the bills she's still receiving.
"My experience was good, but the bills afterwards started rolling in because what my medicare didn't cover, they sent the bills to me," Glasson said.
Glasson wasn't surprised to learn of the hospital's ranking.
The data the study used was collected from the 2012 Medicare cost reports from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The amount patients actually pay depends on insurance coverage and other factors.
Prices can really be high for those without coverage.
"Oh they're astronomical," said Lancaster resident Alicia Patterson
Patterson recently obtained health insurance. The report found those without coverage or who are hospitalized outside their network are more likely to pay the high rates.
"Now that I have insurance, I'm treated a lot, I felt that I was treated a lot more fairly," Patterson said
Insurance providers are usually able to negotiate lower costs for patients.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimated more than 13,000 were without health insurance in Lancaster County in 2013.
However, Spring Memorial Hospital said in a statement to WBTV that hospital charges "do not accurately portray what consumers pay for their healthcare." The statement continued, "At our hospital, we provide substantial discounts for those who are uninsured and we offer charity care for those who qualify. Medicare and Medicaid determine what they will pay for our services, which is often less than the actual cost of care. And, insurance companies negotiate the rates that they will pay."
There is no federal law that regulates how much providers can charge patients for services.
The full statement from Springs Memorial Hospital released to WBTV:
"Hospital reimbursement is a complex issue involving multiple players in a system that has evolved over many years. Charges vary from hospital to hospital because each has a unique mix of payers, patients, and services.
Hospital charges do not accurately portray what consumers pay for their healthcare. At our hospital, we provide substantial discounts for those who are uninsured and we offer charity care for those who qualify. Medicare and Medicaid determine what they will pay for our services, which is often less than the actual cost of care. And, insurance companies negotiate the rates that they will pay.
Healthcare costs are complicated, and we know what really matters to patients is what they personally pay out of pocket. We have financial counselors who work with our patients to help them understand their financial responsibility, including co-pays, deductibles, and, in the case of the uninsured if they are eligible for discounts, financial assistance, Medicare, Medicaid or charity care.
Springs Memorial Hospital provides medically necessary emergency medical care for patients regardless of their ability to pay. Patients whose household income is at or below 100 percent of the current Federal Poverty Income Guidelines are eligible for charity care. In 2014, the hospital provided $88 million in charity and uncompensated care to the area's most in-need residents and paid $2.37 million in property taxes that support local civic resources and other state or federal purposes.
We manage fiscal operations of Springs Memorial to remain a vital contributor to the quality of life and economic health of the community.
Our positive operating margins allow us to reinvest in the services we provide, including a $4.3 million recent Emergency Department renovation; and new $3.1 million geriatric psychiatric unit of the hospital that will open in November of this year."
For more information about the report, click here.