St. John's price increased

Physician assistant Rosie Boschen helps Dr. Rafael Williams manage tools during surgery in 2019 at St. John’s Health. Almost all nonemergency surgeries were stopped at St. John’s during the coronavirus outbreak, and now that they have restarted, they will be an important part of the hospital’s financial recovery.

St. John’s Health is raising its prices.

At the hospital’s board of trustees meeting June 29, the board approved an 8% average price increase for inpatient and outpatient services. That doesn’t mean each procedure will go up that 8%, but that the across-the-board increase will come out to that figure.

Chief Financial Officer John Kren told the board that 8% would bring the hospital’s prices in line with the average at similar Mountain West facilities, something St. John’s has been looking to do in recent years. Hospitals generally raise their prices yearly, so if those other medical centers raise their prices for the next fiscal year, St. John’s would conceivably again be below the average.

“Given where we are not only with the whole COVID environment, but given that we’re trying to get ourselves up to at least the midpoint,” Kren said, “our analysis proves out in many different ways that targeting an 8% price increase, on average across the board, was the best target for this year.”

The increase is the same amount St. John’s bumped its prices last year. The increase allows the hospital to reinvest in programs or cover the cost of new equipment. And with the sharp financial pressure the coronavirus pandemic has put on medical facilities across the country, this will help St. John’s recover more quickly.

Elective surgeries, which is how most hospitals make the majority of their money, had been halted during the initial outbreak, but Kren told the board that they have picked back up, which will refill the coffers at St. John’s. However, the future availability of testing supplies isn’t a guarantee, and if the hospital isn’t able to test each patient before a procedure, it could have a deleterious effect.

“That adds a lot of kind of frightening variability to our revenue, our most important revenue stream ... sustaining elective surgery,” Kren said.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

(4) comments

Susan Crosser

As to the ventilator situation, EIRMC specifically stated that they would only accept transfer patients from SJH IF THE PATIENT COULD NOT RECEIVE AN APPROPRIATE LEVEL OF CARE AT SJH. So, if all patients that needed ventilators were transferred, it was because EIRMC and SJH judged SJH to be unable to provide the necessary care to the patient. Dr. Beaupre stating that SJH could handle patients on ventilators, but PPE dictated that they be transferred is ……?

Susan Crosser

So testing supplies could slow down or halt elective surgeries. One more reason we shouldn't have wasted all those tests at the end of May. For some reason, there seems to be an incredible lack of foresight in the running of the hospital. I have a set of hospital schematics. I think with the forethought, and with the plan to NEVER admit someone requiring a ventilator, it would probably have been possible to keep elective surgery going. What was required was the ability to look at how you isolate COVID patients in order to keep as much of the hospital open as possible. Putting them in Primary Care really made no sense. They could have inconvenienced a few in order to maximize usage, but placing them in PCU was not the answer.

Judd Grossman

The price of medical care has very little correlation to what the average person can afford to pay. Third-party payers like insurance companies and the government have encouraged providers to decouple their pricing from reality. If people had to pay their own bills prices would have to come down. In the real world if your product is unaffordable you can’t then raise the price 8% more and survive as a business.

JOhn Smothers

getting greedy once again!

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