Lawsuit Says Florida Hospitals Are Fixing and Inflating Prices, Violate Federal Antitrust Laws

March 17, 2004

Florida hospitals, in violation of United States Antitrust laws, have reportedly engaged in a large “conspiracy” to artificially and unlawfully inflate prices to “exorbitant” levels to consumers, resulting in extraordinary growth in profitability to these hospitals.

That is the most serious charge in a federal lawsuit filed in the
U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida (Ft. Myers Division) by Medical Savings Insurance Company, an Oklahoma Corporation.

The suit also charges that Florida hospitals are taking part in a coordinated and illegal group boycott against Medical Savings Insurance Company because the company has refused to collaborate in the hospitals alleged unlawful pricing schemes.

In recent months, consumer groups and media reports have reportedly documented many of these alleged abuses by the hospitals, carrying reports on the high prices charged to those without insurance.

HCA, Inc., which owns the greatest number of hospitals in Florida, is reportedly currently boycotting Medical Savings Insurance.

Underscoring the alleged conspiracy charge, the complaint reportedly shows the closeness of the relationship between HCA and the Florida Hospital Association (FHA), a trade association helping to coordinate the boycott. Many of the current FHA Board of Trustee positions are reportedly held by high-ranking employees of HCA.

The lawsuit is asking that the court find the hospitals named in the suit in violation of Federal anti-trust laws, guilty of conspiracy in driving prices to exorbitant levels, and guilty of participating in an illegal boycott of Medical Savings Insurance Company.

In addition, the lawsuit asks the court, among other things to enjoin the hospitals from arbitrarily setting prices at levels that have no reasonable relationship to the costs of goods and services and end the unreasonable or discriminatory amounts charged to patients.

Medical Savings Insurance Company reportedly promises the court it will direct any punitive damages awarded to a fund to help defray the costs of hospital care for uninsured patients in Florida who cannot to pay their own medical bills.

Medical Savings Insurance Company is licensed in 35 states and provides Health Savings Accounts to individuals.

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