'Facility fee' at Cleveland Clinic centers causing an uproar

Despite Cleveland Clinic CFO Steven Glass's assertion that without facility fees "we wouldn't be able to stay in business," many patients are becoming very upset at the thought of paying more money, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

At the beginning of March, the clinic began adding such fees for outpatient treatments at nine of its 15 family health centers in Ohio. The fees cover such things as the cost of equipment, supplies, staff salaries and building maintenance. Such fees have caused visits that once cost only $25 (the cost of a co-pay) to jump up to $80 after the addition of a $55 facility fee. Once a deductible is reached, the fee no longer applies, according to the article.

Cleveland isn't the only place where this is happening, but the clinic may want to reconsider its stance on not posting signs to inform patients of such fees: Seattle lawyer John Phillips has two class-action lawsuits filed against hospitals in Washington for failing to let patients know about facility fees.

Susan Sherry, deputy director of Community Catalyst, a non-profit working to improve affordability in healthcare, believes that incidents such as this only add to the public's desire for a reformed system.

"This is exactly the kind of situation where there's confusion, there's a lack of clarity about the rules of the game and the consumer gets stuck holding the bag," she said.

For more on Cleveland Clinic's fees:
- read this Cleveland Plain Dealer article