Hospitals will spend millions of dollars more on blood products this year so the American Red Cross, their largest supplier, can balance its budget.
Its 45 regions began raising prices an average of 6% in March, a Red Cross spokeswoman said.
The price increases to hit individual hospitals vary by region and previous contract terms.
The Red Cross Carolinas region, serving 120 hospitals, will increase prices an average of 6.5% on May 1. The average price paid for a unit of red blood cells, for example, will climb to $79.50 from $74.50.
In Missouri, some hospitals will pay 15% to 25% more under new contracts, the Missouri Hospital Association said. St. Anthony's Medical Center, a 760-bed hospital in St. Louis, will spend $1.2 million for blood products that cost $1 million in 1994.
Increases across the Red Cross Missouri-Illinois region, however, average 6%, said Sabrina Kalleberg, a regional spokeswoman. Before the increases, the region expected to lose $2 million on revenues of $37 million in its fiscal year ending June 30. It supplies 116 hospitals.
Nationally, the Red Cross lost $50 million on revenues of $980 million in the year ended June 30, 1994. That was attributed almost entirely to declining donations and a systemwide reorganization, said Liz Hall, spokeswoman for the national Red Cross.
The Red Cross has undergone a sweeping restructuring over the past three years to standardize its operations, partly in response to an order from the Food and Drug Administration (May 2, 1994, p. 8). So far, the Red Cross has spent $100 million to consolidate its operations, build regional laboratories and adopt a standard computer system. It expects to spend $50 million more in the next few years.
Meanwhile, stricter FDA regulation is contributing to rising expenses at the nation's 2,500 blood centers. So are new tests for blood-borne diseases (March 7, 1994, p. 48).
"The problem is, hospitals are under pressure to keep costs down, while we're under pressure to meet expenses," Hall said.