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Hospital Markups; Parking in the Bike Lane; and Camping Off Limits

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I had outpatient knee surgery for ACL reconstruction at Barton Memorial Hospital, and while Healthcare Bluebook puts the total cost for this procedure at $20,000, my bills came to about $70,000. I feel that bills like this are outrageous and the reason why insurance premiums are so high. Why is this surgery so expensive in South Lake Tahoe?

Barton Health provides a state-of-the-art acute care environment to all patients in the South Lake Tahoe region. Services run the gamut — from routine inpatient care to Level III trauma services, ensuring everyone has access to high level medical care 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Barton Memorial Hospital charges fall in the mid-range when compared to California hospitals in the Sacramento/Lake Tahoe region. A third party provides this comparison to the health system.

Healthcare pricing is complex and takes into account:

• California hospitals must meet California regulatory requirements, which are more stringent and costly than other states’ regulations.

• As higher levels of care increase, so do costs. This is mainly due to expensive diagnostic equipment, on-site lab services, blood storage, and specialized care providers. A Level III Trauma Center requires this level of care to ensure best outcomes for patients in their time of need.

• California hospital “charges” are a function of reimbursement rates from insurance companies. Hospitals are not paid “charges.” They are paid significantly less based on reimbursement rates. As an example, MediCal reimburses hospitals 20 to 25 cents on the dollar for care provided. The Healthcare Bluebook estimates “costs,” which are different than “charges” and different than “reimbursement rates.”

Barton recognizes the importance of ensuring services are affordable and accessible in a rural community. Financial aid is available to those who qualify as well as payment plans allowing patients to spread payments over time interest-free.

As a nonprofit, community hospital, Barton is committed to taking care of the health of the community regardless of ability to pay. Meeting that need can be challenging; however, providing depth of services is important to keep our community healthy.

For more information about Barton Health, please email publicrelations@bartonhealth.org.

~ Mindi Befu, director of marketing, public relations and patient experience, Barton Memorial Hospital


I am wondering about the Truckee Donner Land Trust and their use of acquired land for their personal and “big donor” use. Webber Lake has a cordoned-off camping area that is not open to the public but is reserved. Please explain this.

The Truckee Donner Land Trust appreciates the reader's interest in Webber Lake, and Moonshine for giving us the opportunity to respond. The camping area in question is a group campsite we’re finishing up to fully open to the public next year. It was also used to accommodate groups ranging from Boy Scouts to Wounded Warriors this summer. We’ve been adding and fine-tuning aspects of the Webber Lake Campground since opening last summer, and the group campground will be on our online reservation system next season at tdlandtrust.org. Those interested in reserving this fall can contact the Land Trust at (530) 582-4711.

~ Greyson Howard, communications marketing director, Truckee Donner Land Trust


It seems that the Town of Truckee and the police department have been lackadaisical about ticketing people who are parked in the bike lanes around Truckee and Donner, and it's causing a hazard for cyclists. Does the town have any plan to start addressing this?

Thanks for your question. Bike lane violations are actually the most enforced parking violation outside of the downtown parking area. From June 1 to date, officers, including the chief of police, have issued 79 bike lane violation citations. The police department also works with the town’s public works department to ensure the bike lane lines are some of the first painted at the beginning of the season. Even though this is one of our most heavily enforced violations, we do still miss some. We encourage the community to call in violations when you see them to police dispatch at (530) 550-2320.

~ Dan Olsen, support services manager, Town of Truckee Police Department

 
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October 11, 2018