Uwe E. Reinhardt: What Hospitals Charge the Uninsured – NYTimes.com
In this New York Times article, Economist Uwe Reinhardt explains the underlying principle governing what hospitals charge for their services: they are based on the market power of the payer. More market power (i.e. government insurance programs) equals lower prices and vice versa.
The principal implication is there is no competitive consumer market for hospital services since individual consumers have no negotiating leverage whatsoever in terms of what hospitals charge for their services.