Medical pricing in the United States is NOT regulated.
Ship owners and insurers can be overcharged in any port for any service. Without medical management, ship owners are at the mercy of inconsistent pricing.
Consider the pricing practices used by U.S. hospitals. Because prices are unregulated in the United States, they are artificially high in most hospitals. This is mainly because hospitals expect insurance companies—not individuals—to pay for medical costs. This results in exorbitant bills for people who are uninsured or from another country.
In most countries,medical pricing is regulated. Ship owners and insurers must understand that medical pricing in the United States is unregulated. Pricing can vary dramatically from one provider to the next. This is not a trivial matter.
Compounding matters, U.S. hospitals are entitled to collect 100% from mariners, regardless of nationality. Some new collection companies specifically focus on collecting payments for international medical bills. These companies typically resist discounting. Their policies state that arrangements must be in place before medical services are provided, leaving unprepared ship owners with no recourse.
To more clearly see how wildly medical costs can fluctuate in the United States, look at some prices identified by SphereMD in three locales—New Jersey, Houston, Texas, and Washington.
Which amount would you rather pay?
- $450 or $12,000? In New Jersey, an abdominal computerized tomography (CT) scan can cost from $450 (out-patient) to $12,000 (hospital).
- $18 or $650? In Houston, Texas, a complete blood count (CBC) test, which is a simple blood test, can cost $18 (clinic) to $650 (hospital).
- $15 or $950? In Houston, a chem 7 blood text can cost $15 (clinic) to $950 (hospital).
- $16,000 or $108,000? In New Jersey, an appendectomy can cost $108,000 (hospital) compared to $16,000 (hospital) in Washington state.
Clearly, medical pricing is all over the map.
Ship owners and crewmembers have jobs to do—they don’t have time or resources to track down the best services and pricing for every medical need. Medical managers like SphereMD can help alleviate this unfair burden.
Ship owners can take advantage of SphereMD’s knowledge and expertise. With SphereMD, ship owners stop gambling with medical costs and confidently save hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars while still getting high quality medical care for their crews.