Are Hospital Charges Related to Their Safety Score?

The Leapfrog Group, a healthcare purchaser coalition and publisher of the annual Hospital Safety Score, believes that hospitals that receive a C rating or lower charge more for their healthcare services. “It’s counterintuitive and outrageous, but you will pay a lot more for hospitals that have more errors, accidents and infections,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog, in a news release. “Errors aren’t typically marked as a line item on a bill — but purchasers and consumers are paying millions of dollars for them, and we’ve substantiated it with our research.”
According to Leapfrog, hospitals that experience more medical errors have built in to their charges a hidden hospital surcharge to make up for these errors. The press release notes that,”
Using the Hospital Safety Scores, Leapfrog estimates that on average, for a patient admitted to a hospital with a grade of “C” or lower, purchasers pay $7,780 in hidden surcharges due to medical errors. The Hidden Surcharge Calculator offers an example of an employer with 1,000 hospital admissions per year that pays a hidden surcharge of more than $7.7 million. Employers can use the calculator enter their own claims data and local hospital safety ratings from the Hospital Safety Score website to learn the estimated hidden surcharge they pay annually for hospital errors.

By shifting employees to “A” hospitals, employers can decrease these hidden surcharges and protect their employees and dependents from harm, as well. It is worth noting that even “A” hospitals have patient safety challenges and are not exempt from this hidden surcharge. “Purchasers can encourage their employees to choose safer, quality care by sharing the Hospital Safety Score, being transparent about hazards at certain area hospitals and considering changes in benefits design,” says Ms. Binder. “Purchasers should also use the Hidden Surcharge Calculator in contract negotiations with their health plan provider, as well as in conversations with their benefits consultant and local business coalition on health.”
The Hidden Surcharge Calculator, white paper and methodology can be viewed at:”