60 Minutes Airs Piece on Uninsured Middle Class Overcharged by Hospitals

March 3, 2006

Embattled hospital leaders, who have been talking internally for three months about a CBS 60 Minutes news segment on hospitals that overcharge uninsured patients, will finally be able to view the segment this Sunday, March 5.

“Hospital associations and industry insiders have been on pins and needles since it became known that 60 Minutes was investigating the allegations of hospital price gouging,” said K.B. Forbes, executive director of the Consejo de Latinos Unidos, a leading national advocacy group that educates and assists the uninsured. Forbes was interviewed by Dan Rather and will be part of the segment on Sunday evening’s broadcast.

Reportedly, hospitals will charge uninsured patients three or four times more than what the hospital would accept as payment in full from an insurance company. The Consejo de Latinos Unidos, which is the group that launched the first investigation into hospital price gouging five years ago, has reportedly caused major changes in the hospital sector including forcing the second largest for-profit hospital system, Tenet Healthcare, to change its practices in 2003. Tenet now charges the uninsured the same discounted prices as insured patients.

In December 2002, the American Hospital Association reportedly acknowledged that hospital price gouging and aggressive collection practices were a problem. “The reality in 2006, half a decade after exposing the problem, is that many hospitals are still price gouging and failing to treat middle class uninsured Americans fairly,” said Forbes.

Posted on the CBS News Web site is the following: “IS THE PRICE RIGHT? — Are hospitals discriminating against patients without insurance by making them pay more than insured patients for the same services? Dan Rather investigates. Michael Rosenbaum is the producer.”

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