DENVER (KDVR) — A new poll suggests Colorado voters are strongly opposed to hospitals charging facility fees at locations outside their hospital campus.
The Problem Solvers have been covering these types of fees for more than a year. Some hospitals even reduced their fees for customers after the Problem Solvers got involved. Our team has covered issues from parents receiving facility fees for virtual visits for their kids, to a call for transparency among Colorado lawmakers.
What is a facility fee?
These are the fees hospitals charge patients to cover operational costs like front desk staff, nurses and emergency room equipment, not for the doctor’s diagnosis or treatment. They may be included in your bill, but they’re not always identified as such.
“The registration clerk, the nurses, the nurses’ aides, the IT tech that provides the infrastructure for your electronic health record, security, food service if that’s offered in that outpatient setting, so it really goes to pay the people that provide the rest of your care other than the physician,” said Julie Lonborg with the Colorado Hospital Association.
Sometimes, facility fees are more expensive than the doctor’s fee even when you don’t visit your doctor at the hospital but at a doctor’s office or clinic.
As hospitals have bought up private doctor practices, they have imposed facility fees at practices that may not even be located in the same neighborhood.
New polling from Strategies360
Five hundred registered voters were polled between Feb. 3 and Feb. 7. Across the political divide, roughly eight in 10 Democrats, Independents and Republicans agreed with a move to remove these fees.
According to the poll, roughly 61% of voters said an unexpected medical expense of $500 would be difficult to pay within 30 days. Roughly a third said they would not be able to afford the charge at all.
Nearly three in four voters polled would support lawmakers who vote to ban facility fees charged outside of hospital campuses.
A spokesperson for the Colorado Hospital Association took issue with how the poll defines facilities fees as being charged “in addition to the cost of medical care the patient received, and hospitals claim these fees go towards covering administrative and operational expenses” saying it was misleading.
Lawmakers are currently crafting a bill that could increase the transparency of these fees and may impact where they can be charged. Lonborg said taking away even a part of that revenue stream for hospitals could have negative consequences for access to care.
“We believe it will impact long-term access to care,” Lonborg said. “We believe it will disrupt that integrated model I just described where patients can get everything all in one setting, close to home in a convenient, comfortable place for them.”