Las Vegas hospitals dominate list of highest state prices, nurses warn
of ongoing harm for patients needing care
New data released by the nation’s largest nurses’ organization reveals
that Nevada hospitals are among the most costly in the nation, helping
fuel a growing scandal of high hospital charges and costs.
Nevada ranks fourth nationally in how high it sets its charges over
its costs, with a statewide average charge of 448 percent as a percent
of total costs. In other words, the average Nevada hospital charges
$448 for every $100 of its total costs. That’s well above the national
average of 331 percent.
Las Vegas area hospitals dominate the list of most expensive hospitals
in Nevada, comprising nine of the top 10 hospitals on how high they
set their charges.
Top 10 Most Expensive Hospitals — Nevada (by total charges as a
percent of total costs)
1- Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center, Las Vegas — 828 percent
2- Summerlin Hospital Medical Center, Las Vegas — 776 percent
3- Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center, Las Vegas — 765 percent
4- Valley Hospital Medical Center, Las Vegas — 750 percent
5- MountainView Hospital, Las Vegas — 739 percent
6- Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, Las Vegas — 716 percent
7- Centennial Hills Hospital, Las Vegas — 710 percent
8- North Vista Hospital, North Las Vegas — 620 percent
9- Northern Nevada Medical Center, Sparks — 618 percent
10- Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center, Las Vegas — 568 percent
The new findings are based on publicly available Medicare Cost Reports
as of June, 2013, covering the fiscal year 2011-2012, analyzed by the
Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Research, the research arm of
National Nurses United.
For the charge-to-cost ratio for other Nevada hospitals, call 510-273-2246.
IHSP/NNU also released the top 100 most expensive U.S. hospitals, top
10 for each state, and statewide averages.
— The 100 most expensive U.S. hospitals have a charge-to-cost ratio of
765 percent and higher — more than double the national average of 331
—Despite enactment of the Affordable Care Act, hospital charges
recorded their single biggest jump, a 22 percentile point increase
from fiscal year 2010-2011 to fiscal year 2011-2012 in the past 16
years, for which the IHSP has analyzed the data.
—There is a strong correlation between high charges and profits. The
10 percent of hospitals with the highest charges over their costs have
the largest average profits.
—For-profit hospitals continue to dominate the list of those with the
highest charges. For-profit corporations average charges of 503
percent of their costs, or $503 for every $100 of total costs.
—By contrast, publicly-run hospitals, including federal, state,
county, city, or district operated hospitals, with public budgets and
boards that meet in public, exercise far more restraint than
for-profit or non-profit corporate chains. Average charge ratios for
government-run hospitals are just 235 percent of their costs.
—Public oversight, or regulation, seems to help constrain excessive
pricing. Maryland, probably the most regulated state in the U.S., has
the lowest average charges of all the states among its 10 most
“Such inflated practices continue to price far too many Americans out
of access to needed medical care or expose them to financial ruin.
It’s time to rein in the price gouging and recognize that a healthcare
system based on profiteering puts all of us at risk,” said Jean Ross,
RN, NNU co-president.
While Medicare sets reimbursement rates, insurance companies typically
negotiate with hospitals on reimbursements. But the higher the
charges, says NNU, the greater the ultimate reimbursement that
insurers pay. Predictably, insurers will pass those increased costs to
ratepayers, with resulting higher premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and
other fees for patients and families.
Uninsured individuals with far less bargaining power are too often hit
with the full list price. Hospitals increasingly tack on steep
co-pays, require cash up front before administering care, or hound
patients for payment afterwards.
Globally, a Commonwealth Fund study of 11 developed nations released
in November found that U.S. adults are the most likely to forego
treatment due to cost, struggle to pay bills, and spend the most out
of pocket on medical care. In 2013, it found, 37 percent of U.S.
adults failed to see a doctor, didn’t seek recommended treatment or
did not fill a prescription because of the high cost — compared to
just 4 percent of those in Great Britain.
“Nurses will never stop fighting for transformation of our inequitable
healthcare system to one based on patient need and quality care for
all. The numbers for bankruptcy and financial ruin from medical bills
plummet at age 65 when people qualify for Medicare. The best solution
is to expand and update Medicare to cover everyone, and take the
financing of healthcare out of the hands of the profiteers,” Ross