Hospital Drug Prices-Not What You’d Expect

Kaiser Health News is reporting a disturbing story concerning the exorbitant prices of drugs in hospital settings. Here are some of Kaiser’s findings:
“Excessive drug prices have also surprised seniors in other parts of the country:
–In Missouri, several Medicare observation patients were billed $18 for one baby aspirin, said Ruth Dockins, a senior advocate at the Southeast Missouri Area Agency on Aging.
–Pearl Beras, 85, of Boca Raton, Fla., said in an interview that her hospital charged $71 for one blood pressure pill for which her neighborhood pharmacy charges 16 cents.
–In California, a hospital billed several Medicare observation patients $111 for one pill that reduces nausea; for the same price, they could have bought 95 of the pills at a local pharmacy, said Tamara McKee, program manager for the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program at the Alliance on Aging in Monterey County, Calif., who handled at least 20 complaints last year from Medicare beneficiaries about excessive hospital drug bills.”
Observation patients refers to the classification of a patient who is hospitalized for “observation” purposes only and not formally admitted to the hospital. These patients, according to Kaiser, can leave the medical facility with whopping bills. Of course, they aren’t aware of this until they receive a bill for such medicines a week or two after the hospital visit.

Holly Haines