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Hospital vs Surgery Center Care

Elective medical procedures, such as screening colonoscopies, carpal tunnel releases, bunionectomies and cataract surgeries are all routinely performed daily in hospitals and surgeries centers across America.  There are approximately 5,700 hospitals and 7,000 surgery centers in the US. So what’s the difference?

The answer: money! Surgery centers are priced often at only ½ or ¼ of a hospital for the same medical care, even if the same physician performs a carpal tunnel release surgery at Hospital A and Surgery Center B.   Sounds crazy, right?! But it is the truth.

Pratter wants you to know that the medical facility fee is the most expensive part of care for an elective medical procedure and it is often twice or quadruple the price in a hospital compared to a surgery center. This has come about due to hospital lobbyists stating that they have more overhead so they should charge more.  It’s a poor argument, but with enough money, politicians are indeed influenced.

The quality of medical care offered at surgery centers is just as good, if not better, than that offered at hospitals. 

If a hospital buys a surgery center and owns it, they get to charge the expensive hospital medical facility fee, referred to as the HOPD (Hospital Outpatient Department) fee. If a hospital does the billing for a freestanding surgery center, they get to charge the expensive hospital medical facility fee, referred to as the HOPD fee.  Care there becomes just as expensive as if it occurred at the hospital. 

Take home points:

1) Independent surgery centers cost less than hospitals for medical procedures, usually $1,000s less.

2) Hospital-owned surgery centers are just as expensive as the hospital itself.

3) Hospital-employed physicians will be instructed by their administrators to send you to their expensive facilities.

4) You have the right to go wherever you want to receive medical care. That’s your right as a health care consumer. This type of discussion with your doctor can save you $1,000s and not compromise your care. There are many good in-network medical facilities and doctors. 

Pratter understands that affordable access to care is often the difference between receiving it or not. We want each of you to have the most access to the care you need.