Finally, some honesty

The last month has brought news of plans for new hospitals including this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one.  There are more to be sure.

Aging hospitals, demographic shifts, increasing use of technology, and the evolution of patient care have spawned the need for new buildings.

Another story of new hospital construction is particularly intriguing: “An expansion at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics will result in an increase in patient costs, but officials said they don’t yet know how much.”

The case of need can be made quite easily.  Americans are consuming more health care than ever before.  Increased patient volumes are directly correlated with need for more space.

But lacking in many stories of plans for new hospital construction is the cost implications to the patient.  This at a time when the number of uninsured is high.  At a time when patients are being expected to share more equally in their health insurance costs.  At a time that heralds warnings of health care costs reaching the 20 percent mark of gross domestic product.

So at least University of Iowa officials are being honest.  State of the art health care in state of the art facilities is going to cost more.

From the article:

University Hospitals Chief Financial Officer Ken Fisher said there’s no way to tell how much patient costs will rise because the size of the project and how it will be financed have not been resolved.

Fisher said building now rather than later is a good move for the consumer. With construction costs increasing each year and favorable lending conditions, the project would be more expensive in the future.

New hospital construction is adding costs to the system.  The building boom is showing no signs of slowing.  PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimates health care costs will increase nearly 10 percent in both 2008 and 2009—and new hospital construction is partly to blame.

Is the new construction worth the surcharge added to the final bill?

It depends. Truthfully, the answer may not matter.

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