Sickening article in the WSJ today (the link is to the abbreviated WSJ Blog; you have to be a subscriber to WSJ to read the entire piece) about the Carilion Hospital outside Roanoke, Virginia. Carilion bought the hospital on the other side of town ten years ago and have proceeded to consolidate power in such a fashion that would make the likes of Hitler and Stalin jealous.
Basically, Carilion operates as a giant multi-specialty clinic with the doctors working as employees of the hospital. Doctors who elected to remain independent were quickly vanquished by an unspoken policy of "internal referral", i.e. don't be sending any patients to those guys down the street who aren't a part of Carilion. Numerous established practices dried up and were forced to relocate to other parts of the country. As a result, when you get sick in Roanoke, you have one place to go. Consequently, get ready to pay $4300 for a colonoscopy (five times what you'll pay in the rest of the country).
Some other choice aspects of the article:
- The newspaper reporter who was "re-assigned" after he had published a series of negative articles about Carilion. Carilion complained and withdrew its advertising from the paper; next you you know, the reporter is filing stories for the traffic beat.
-The Carilion board members benefitting financially from the construction of a new clinic complex via a shady back door contract bidding process.
-The vicious nature of Carilion's collections process. "In its fiscal year ended September 30, Carilion says it sued 9,888 patients, garnished the wages of 5,478 people and placed liens on 3,920 homes." Non-profit indeed....This from a hospital that collects a cool $50 million in tax exemptions every year.