Large nonprofit hospitals in North Carolina are dramatically inflating prices on chemotherapy drugs at a time when they are cornering more of the market on cancer care, an investigation by The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer has found.
The newspapers found that hospitals routinely mark up prices on cancer drugs two to 10 times or more over cost. In some cases, the markup is far higher.
The total annual cost of cancer drugs for a single patient can easily top $100,000. Such costs have proved financially devastating to some and, according to national studies, have caused a significant number to put off needed treatments.
An analysis of data from more than 5,000 chemotherapy claims obtained by the newspapers also shows that hospitals and the doctors’ offices they own typically charge more for cancer drugs than independent clinics – sometimes much more. A News & Observer investigation earlier this year showed one key reason: By consolidating into large systems, hospitals have gained leverage to negotiate higher payments from insurance companies.