May 15 (UPI) -- Private insurers pay four times more to cover patients for dialysis treatment than government insurance programs, researchers report in a new study.
On average, private insurers paid $1,041 per dialysis session while government programs paid $248 per session, according to a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles analyzed dialysis and related lab services financial statements from 2010 to 2017 for DaVita, a company with 37 percent market share of the dialysis industry. Those records included outpatient hemodialysis, inpatient dialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
Private insurers have to negotiate their prices with dialysis clinics, while government programs like Medicare pay a fixed rate.
Together, DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care own 75 percent of the dialysis clinic market share.
The new study aligns with previous research that shows healthcare spending in the United States outpaces other developed countries. On average cost, other wealthy countries pay half of what the United States does for healthcare, according to research from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The UCLA researchers think more competition or policies to address the issue could help bring down the costs.
"Reducing payments from commercial insurers, perhaps through increased competition or fixing charges at a percent of Medicare reimbursement, may help alleviate excess spending on dialysis," researchers wrote in the study.