- A study last year outed 50 hospitals that were charging patients more than 10 times the actual cost of care, compared to the typical markup of 3.4 times the cost of care, resulting in nationwide negative publicity for those institutions.
- With 20 of those hospitals being located in Florida, the incident prompted a separate follow-up study this year by researchers at the University of Miami to see if those Florida hospitals lowered their prices in response to public pressure.
- Despite researchers' expectations that some charges would have been lowered, they found the public "naming and shaming" to have done nothing to bring prices down, and that charges were actually higher overall after the publicity.
The findings indicate any impacts from price shaming are fleeting and provide no controls over hospitals, which leaves them accountable to no one, study author Karoline Mortensen told The Washington Post.
The study raises questions about how effective efforts toward price transparency will ultimately be if many hospitals don't mind reputations for high costs due to factors including lack of competition, and lack of price regulation in all states but Maryland and West Virginia.
The hospitals may also be counting on patients to maintain an assumption that higher prices are tied to better care, but the study found the opposite to be true, concluding 20 hospitals studied were actually less likely than other Florida hospitals to earn three or more stars in CMS' quality metrics system.
Of the 20 Florida hospitals examined, one was a nonprofit while the rest were part of the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) system or affiliated with Community Health Systems.
One impacted that was seen following the negative news report was a share price drop of 2.5% for CHS, which recovered within the week.