Letter: UCHealth is driving up health costs in Steamboat
October 29, 2018
Earlier this month the Denver Post ran an article, “Coloradans pay more as hospital building spree leads to empty beds and profits nearly twice the national average.” The research revealed the state's hospitals were building far more aggressively than nearly any other area in the nation.
In short, according to this report, all the construction was duplicating services, creating empty patient beds and driving up hospital prices dramatically. It appears this may be happening in Steamboat Springs with UCHealth's proposed hospital outpatient surgical center.
A little over a year ago, our local hospital, previously known as the Yampa Valley Medical Center, was merged in to UCHealth, one of the largest medical corporations in the country. Now UC Health is planning to build a $30 million, hospital-controlled and owned ambulatory surgical center to serve same-day surgery patients, most of whom are orthopedic patients. Further, UCHealth is advertising across the country for surgeons to staff the facility who will be employed by the corporation.
There has been no public community impact study or needs study done on how this will impact patient costs although the hospital claims the new center might lower costs. On the contrary, in other instances, patient costs have risen because the empty space increases hospital overhead.
With building this hospital outpatient center, which has historically higher costs than joint-ventured surgical centers, UCHealth appears to be duplicating space and talent we already have and missing an opportunity to actually lower costs.
Members of the Yampa Valley Medical Center board of directors, as community representatives, should be the final people standing up for our community, our community hospital and our community healthcare. Unfortunately, the YVMC board is transitioning to include individuals who do not have long-term relationships to our community.
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Is this good for Yampa Valley residents? In the end, we will all pay the bill, with increased insurance costs and medical bills already among the highest in the country. We deserve to have answers before the center is built.