Does Mission really need to increase your rates to provide higher wages?

In case you haven’t heard yet, Mission Hospital is terminating its contract with Blue Cross effective October 5. Why? In short — Mission wanted to raise its rates and Blue Cross pushed back. (You can read all the details here.)

Mission cited the desire to increase wages for its employees as one reason why it needs to raise its payment rates.

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“It’s simply impossible to keep up with rising medical supply, pharmaceutical, and other operating costs, let alone provide future wage increases to our fantastic team members without appropriate annual adjustments to our payment rates from BCBSNC in the coming years,” Mission Health stated in a press release.

We’ve previously discussed Mission’s operating costs, its $400 million construction project, the role Medicaid has played in its decision to pull out of the Blue Cross network, and now we’re going to tackle the wage topic — so buckle up.

The current financial state of Mission Health

Before we dive in too far, here’s some food for thought: instead of its $400 million building project, Mission Health could have given each of its 10,700 employees an approximate $37,000 raise — all without any increases from its customers (that’s you.)

But Mission didn’t do that. Instead, it has said that it wants to give its employees raises directly from you by making you pay more. How? By making you pay more for the exact same services and indirectly from your insurance company and ultimately, your premiums.  In a way, they are asking you to take a pay cut so it can give its employees raises.

We all want to make more money, and we want every hospital employee to be happy (especially the nurses and hospital staff who we all know are the ones who really run the show). Mission is filled with hard-working individuals that chose to go into a field where they are directly (or indirectly) responsible for our care and well-being, and they cannot be commended enough for the work that they do.

However, we also have a right to ask Mission if it is being a good steward of our (your) money.    

Normally, when costs go up for other goods and services, you have the choice to say no. Unfortunately, we don’t usually have that choice when it comes to healthcare for ourselves or our family.

According to Glassdoor, employees at Mission Health are decently paid to begin with, especially when you consider that the average income for an Asheville resident has gone down 4.5 percent over the last decade (despite the U.S. national average increasing.) This means that the Mission Health staff is doing better than many other Asheville citizens when you consider Asheville’s growing cost of living.  And that’s okay for those folks who are really running the hospital and keeping the lights on. 

But here is the question: why is Mission building a $400 million addition if the hospital is so strapped for cash?  Why is Mission asking for payment rate increases for a staff that is a fraction of the size that it used to be while its CEO’s salary continues to skyrocket? Why is it buying expensive new technology that might be more convenient but hasn’t been proven to offer any better outcomes?  Is it okay for a hospital to ask for payment rate increases to solve its financial woes and subsequently place the fiscal burden on the patients it promises to serve?

We’d love to hear your opinions on the answers to these questions, in addition to anything else you have to say surrounding the Mission Health-Blue Cross situation. Feel free to share your thoughts with us here in the comments or on Facebook. We’ll continue to keep you in the loop.

While Mission could learn a thing or two from its financial past, we’re already looking towards your fiscal future when it comes to healthcare. One way to reduce soaring healthcare costs is to roll back state-based mandates that drive up the cost of insurance for everyone in North Carolina. Want to help us fight? Join us.


 

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