With the average cost of health care projected to skyrocket to $24,000 per year by 2020, a California health care worker union ramped up efforts this week to stop hospitals from overcharging consumers.
The SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, which has more than 150,000 members on the West Coast, filed two state-wide ballot initiatives Wednesday calling for more transparency on hospital costs, an increase in charitable givings and an end to overcharging for hospital services, according to a statement.
“These initiatives give consumers transparency and increase care for the needy,” said Dave Regan, the union’s president. “It is exactly what we should demand and expect from healthcare companies we exempt from taxes because they have a charitable mission.”
The Charity Care Act of 2012 would require nonprofit hospitals to earn at least 5 per cent of their patient revenue from caring for the needy in exchange for a break on state and local taxes. There are currently no requirements for how much charity health care hospitals must generate in return for tax breaks.
The Fair Healthcare Pricing Act of 2012 aims to shoot down price gouging by blocking hospitals from charging more than 25 per cent above the actual cost of patient care.
The union maintains that California hospitals charge patients anywhere from 450 per cent to 1,000 per cent more than the cost of providing care, which drives up the cost of health care.
The acts would pump more than $1.7 billion into the state’s economy, according to SEIU. California residents currently pay more than 20 per cent of their income to health care, averaging $15,000 per family, the union says.
Voters will sound off on the initiatives during the November 2012 election season.