New York State Exposed: Medical bill surcharge

Posted at: 08/04/2014 7:03 AM
Updated at: 08/04/2014 6:18 PM
By: Amanda Ciavarri

When you go to the hospital, even with decent health care coverage, it can cost you hundreds of dollars. News10NBC learned, for years, the state has been adding extra fees to all of those medical bills. Recently, the surcharge has been separated out on the portion of your bills that explains the charges.

On Sue McManis’s bill, it is labeled “service charge.” Almost by mistake, McManis found out the $47.33 was really a state fee. Concerned over another part of her bill, she called Noyes Hospital in Dansville to get clarification of her charges.

McManis said, "I had cortisone shot in the knees, they are charging me for the injection, the medicine, they are charging me for what they injected and now the service fee."

The billing clerk explained to McManis that since 1996, the New York State Health Care Reform has been imposing a surcharge on patient care from state licensed health care provider. This means, every time you go to the hospital, or an affiliated clinic, even to the doctor's for an in-office surgical procedure, the state adds a nine point six percent surcharge to your bill.

According to the state, in the 2014 fiscal year, it collected $2.8 billion in these surcharges. This goes into a pot where other assessments and taxes, like the cigarette tax, go.

News10NBC set out to ask if people have to pay this surcharge. We asked Governor Cuomo’s office directly. We were sent a copy of the state budget, saying it would be explained in there. It is a 400 page document. On page 94, News10NBC found a breakdown of how this surcharge is spent. In the 2014 fiscal year, $2.3 billion was spent on Medicaid costs and $776 million on indigent care.

Mark Johns,(R), New York State Assembly, said, “People that are uninsured or low income, no one is refused medical care and you have to pay for it some way, and that's where the charge comes in."


McManis feels this goes against the fact that lawmakers say they want state health care to be more affordable.

McManis said," To give us another surcharge, without telling us there is a surcharge, on top of all the taxes we pay, now I know why everyone is leaving New York State.”

News10NBC asked Assemblyman Johns why not take away this surcharge.

Johns said, “Well, it would lower hospital charges, but we would have to make it up in some other way. I think the Affordable Care Act, which was kind of pushed through Congress, was supposed to have taken care of all these problems.”

Assemblyman Johns has an idea that would eliminate this fee.

Johns said, “I think the simpler way of doing this is, if someone with low income, we are going to send them a voucher check. The federal government would send a voucher check once a year. That can only be used to buy health insurance and that way everyone would be covered.”

You can reach out to the New York State Department of Health at 1-866-881-2809.