Hidden Surcharge Calculator Makes Waves

November 12, 2014

With medical errors remaining the third-leading cause of death in the United States, employers and health care purchasers are increasingly concerned about keeping their employees safe from harm, as well as keeping down costs. To address this challenge, nonprofit patient safety watchdog The Leapfrog Group (Leapfrog) has created the new Purchaser Toolkit. This toolkit features the Hidden Surcharge Calculator, recently validated by The Care Innovations™ Validation Institute, which helps employers determine how much they spend unnecessarily due to medical errors within general acute care hospitals.

The Hidden Surcharge Calculator demonstrates how an employer with 1,000 hospital admissions per year could potentially pay a hidden surcharge of more than $7.9 million. That’s based on Leapfrog estimates that on average, for a patient admitted to a hospital with a grade of “C” or lower on its Hospital Safety Score, purchasers pay $8,768 in hidden surcharges due to medical errors.

Developed by a team of experts, The Hidden Surcharge Calculator has been awarded a “Certificate of Validation Seal” by The Care Innovations™ Validation Institute, an organization established by Intel and GE to rate health care tools, plans and vendors to help industry consumers make educated choices.

“We are proud of this certification because it demonstrates our commitment to the highest standards of validity,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog. “It also helps us to shine a light on this problem of employers paying a premium for poor care. If employers make a concerted effort to shift employees to “A” hospitals, they will not only decrease these hidden surcharges, but they will protect employees and their families from harm,” added Binder.

Created with the support of a financial grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Hospital Safety Score Purchaser Toolkit is being released at a crucial time of year, as November marks the open enrollment period for health coverage. It’s an opportune moment to launch a conversation with employees about patient safety and how to choose a hospital by using the Fall 2014 Hospital Safety Score, which assigns A, B, C, D and F grades to hospitals based on their ability to prevent errors, injuries and infections. Beyond the calculator, tools for employers include free, downloadable “plug-and-play” communications, including newsletter articles, internal memos and template emails, all featuring consumer-friendly and easy-to-understand messaging.

“With this toolkit, purchasers can advise employees on how to choose safer, quality care, by sharing the Hospital Safety Score and by being transparent about the hazards that exist in hospitals,” added Binder. “With 41 percent of hospitals receiving a ‘C,’ ‘D’ or ‘F’ grade on our Fall 2014 Score, it’s clear that some hospitals are safer than others. Employers can play a critical role in ensuring safer care for their employees.”

The Hospital Safety Score is calculated by top patient safety experts and is free to the public. Its methodology is peer-reviewed and fully transparent. A full analysis of the data and methodology used in determining grades is available online at www.hospitalsafetyscore.org.

For background on the calculator and the transparent process it uses, you can view Leapfrog’s informative white paper, “The Hidden Surcharge Americans Pay for Hospital Errors.” The calculator has also been awarded Gold Standard status by the Disease Management Purchasing Consortium.


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