A new report by Modern Healthcare highlights many of the benefits of at-home care, but with one scary and costly caveat: half of the big hospital executives interviewed pled 'no comment' when asked about hitting patients with expensive facility fees.
Facility fees are meant to offset a hospital's overhead costs for things like electricity, food, cleaning services, and laundry. These charges can cost patients several thousands of dollars when they are using the hospitals facilities.
But why should a patient have to pay a facility fee when they are at home and not...using the facility?
It borders on fraudulent, for example, to charge someone a $1,000 hospital room fee when they are sleeping at home in their own bed.
Yet half the Big Hospital executives refused to rule it out.
Moving more care into the home setting carries a lot of promise. It can help "bridge care gaps, improve quality and reduce costs."
In fact, as the report points out, studies have found that hospital-at-home care is upwards of 40 percent less expensive in-patient care. But those savings can only be achieved if expensive hospital overhead charges aren't added on to a patient's at-home bill.
Last year at the North Carolina General Assembly, the Big Hospital Lobby tried to push through a bill that would mandate patients, or a patient's insurer, cover (i.e. pay for) facility fees for telehealth.
Thankfully that bill did not pass, although it continues to be discussed.
Telehealth holds a vast amount of promise for improved patient outcomes and substantial cost savings.
North Carolina's big hospital systems tried to sabotage that promise at the legislature. And they will try again.
Their efforts must be defeated. Because there is one big thing that could derail all the promise telehealth has to offer.