Inside the Most Expensive Hospital in America
How a New Jersey hospital went from bankruptcy to big bills
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2013 4:55 PM CDT
The wait time at the Bayonne Medical Center's emergency room is seen on a billboard.   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

(Newser) – Bayonne, New Jersey, is not a place you want to get sick. The New York Times has combed through Medicare data released by the government this month, and found Bayonne Medical Center charges the highest prices in the country for almost a quarter of the most common hospital treatments. For instance, a case of chronic lung disease will set you back $99,689 at Bayonne—5.5 times the cost most other hospitals will slug you. The behind-the-scenes story of how the hospital got so damn pricey is a prime example of the pricing strategies some hospitals use to profit from a confusing billing system.

Bayonne Medical actually filed for bankruptcy in 2007. Now, its revenue has nearly tripled and its operating income in 2011 was $9.3 million. How'd it do it? Converting into a for-profit hospital, advertising its low wait times, and becoming out-of-network for big private insurance companies so it could set its own prices. "Their model is to charge exorbitant rates, particularly for emergency room services, and if the insurance companies don’t pay them, they threaten to go after the member for the balance of billing," says a spokesperson from Aetna. The same company has now purchased two other hospitals.

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May 19, 2013 3:50 PM CDT
I wonder if they overcharge for the lube before raping your ass, or if its just a cot rental. I couldn't find it in the itemized list when I went over my bills. lol. Three heart surgeries, a collapsed lung, two abdominal hernias, and pre-cancer in my colon within the last 7 years has destroyed my life. I lost my position at one of the companies I worked for soon after due to being an insurance liability, next went my house, then my confidence, my societal status as an independent business owner, amongst many other things were but a last domino at that point. All I have left are these goddamned pills, and a six figure bill that comes every month to remind me how my illness ruined my life, and how the ones who "saved" me kicked me while I was down. Six figures...who can pay that off when you are physically inept to all of your training due to illnesses?
May 19, 2013 6:04 AM CDT
As a part time worker, I have no insurance. With two malignant tumors, here I am in right now Donestk, Ukraine for surgery and Chemo. Apart from the round trip flight cost, I've paid about 500$ for the past week of hospital stay, biopsy, MRI and numerious blood draws. 350$ of that has been under the table in cash to the various Doctor department heads and hospital director, all of whome make about 200-300$ per month officially and slightly more than that under the table and are thrilled to see me. For my money, I have been treated like a Kennedy, walked VIP style to the front of long lines by Doctors and treated 1st class, completly unlike my last experience at Kaiser where after being told the cost of a Doctor visit with cash, was later billed hundreds more with the responce of "We should have told you". My surgery in the morning will cost somewhere between 1000-2000$ based on results, and full chemo will cost less than most deductables back home. The fact that between me and medical services back home has an insurance company paying whatever to Hospitals encourages huge bills. And that competition between insurance Componys is pure crap that they will make things less expensive. Gee, why don't insurance companys get between me and everything else I buy at Walmart it their competition will bring down the purchasing price. Instead,it raises the prices and allows them to dictate what services the doctor will provide me. For those who will question the quality of care here, While some equiptment and the facilities is older that what one see's back home, most is modern, like the GE manufactured MRI machine.I have voted with my feet and my wallet in spite of being a man who prefers "made in America" products. Oh, and county turned me down completly because I have had the good fortune to have paid off my house. Financially punished for being fiscally responsible. And you can count on the bill for all the services I am getting here, had I had this in ANY hospital in America to force me into selling my house to pay the bill. Well middle finger to that.
May 18, 2013 3:25 PM CDT
The family plan I have at work costs $2100 a month and pays for close to nothing. They routinely deny all claims, and I constantly here the people around me calling in week after week to try and get their doctors paid. 50% of the bankruptcies in America are from insured people who can't get their insurance to pay their medical bills.