7 massive problems with our health care system
A $21,000 bill for heartburn? Health care is bankrupting the country, and there's little we can do about it. Here's what caused this crisis.
The prices we pay for health care are outrageous, and for those without health insurance, the costs are out of control. Consider the Connecticut woman who went to the hospital last year for chest pains only to find out it was a bad case of heartburn. She didn't have insurance, and Time reports that she got a bill for $21,000 -- $1,000 for the ambulance ride, $3,000 for doctors and $17,000 for a three-hour -- yes, three-hour -- hospital stay.
Her bill included charges for three protein-related blood tests at $199.50 each. Medicare would have paid $13.94 for each test at the same hospital, Time reports.
America spends 20% of its gross domestic product on health care. That's by far the most of any other country in the world.
How did things get this way? Why does medical help cost so much? Here are seven ways the system went off the rails:
1. No consistent pricing. Every hospital has an internal price list called a chargemaster, and none of those are consistent with each other, Brill reports. The prices keep going up almost automatically, a hospital executive tells the magazine.
2. Hospitals are consolidating. They're also buying doctors' offices, which means they can have more leverage over pricing.
3. They use the expensive technology first. That heartburn patient received an $8,000 CT scan first instead of a regular stress test that the hospital bills at $1,200. Did the doctors need to go straight for the pricey stress test? By the way, the cardiologist reading that test charged $600 just to do that.
4. They test too much. Doctors in the U.S. run far more tests on patients than in other countries. One doctor describes it as "giving out CT scans like candy" in the emergency room.
5. They're scared of lawsuits. No one complains when a test ends up solving a mystery illness or improving medical care. But boy, doctors will hear about it if they pass on a test that could have helped. So doctors overtest to guard against potential lawsuits. "We can't be sued for doing too much," one doctor told the magazine.
6. We let it happen. As Brill noted when he went on The Daily Show this week, patients generally green-light the tests without knowing the costs and accept all of this because they have little choice. "You're an involuntary entrant into the marketplace," he told host Jon Stewart. "There is no marketplace in the most important sense of the definition, which is, does the buyer have any power at all?"
7. Congress is weak. The pharmaceutical and health care industries have spent $5.36 billion since 1998 on lobbying Congress, Brill reports. There's no better way to force the government to buckle under your will.
The 36-page Time magazine piece is one of the most important articles to come out in years. It's well worth a read.
My wife had surgery for a serious case of ulcerative colitis. 5 days in hospital with insurance was $68,000 and I had to pay a $5,000 deductable before anything was started. OK....
Here is what is COMPLETE BULLS###! When I looked over the bills coming in, it was absolutely amazing the frivilous and complete fraudulent charges from some of the doctors. There was several individual charges that were for $2,500, just for a doctor to come in and say "hello, how are you doing today, everything going good? How you feeling?" WHAT? $2,500 for what?
This IS what is wrong with the system!!! These doctors will falsely inflate, and manipulate, for their gains. This kind of crap IS what the government should be investigating and changing. NOT ObamaCare garbage that is going to bankrupt the country.
Go to prison.You and your family get 100% free healthcare, no co-pays,no deductibles.Meds
Very similarly, two years ago my doctor added a Vitamin D test to the other twelve tests in my every-three-month diabetic blood test. The lab got my BCBS ID # wrong, their computer assumed I was uninsured and I got a $256 bill for that one test. A 60-second phone call straightened out the problem and I soon got my Explanation of Benefits letter from BCBS: they had paid the lab in full $13 for the test. And I have no copay for blood tests.
Bingo (Do What You Love), It is Healthcare reform we needed but Insurance reform we are being forced to accept. The healthcare problem just got worse not better. To (cd 1000), your statement “ a mindset that says we have to have whatever we want and the best of everything needs to be eliminated” is the most broken logic I have ever read, but the logic that Cuba, North Korea, most of China and Russia have pursued for decades.
The only people trying to eliminate choice, options and the free market forces are the lobbyist, they make great communist.
We have the technology, we have the brilliant minds, we have the mindset that built this Nation ‘better, faster, cheaper” We have the greatest American asset of all, a free society that embraces competition and problem solving-find a need fill a need. But all of this is being derailed by a Healthcare industry operating like a Healthcare dictator.
We can make more outstanding Doctors, we can build more state of the art hospitals, we can give every American the best Health care possible because most everybody stays healthy for a long time, but for the small percentage of Americans needing care at any given time it can be there and should be there-We CAN DO IT!
Layers of lawyers upon lawyers then judges, then again lawyers. And what is the most popular profession of politicians? Yup lawyers. America has 100 times more lawyers per capita than any country in the world. How many lawyers does each senator or congressman have on their payrolls? Nothing legal is any longer accepted in this country unless it has been blessed by lawyers. But lawyers can't even come close to guberment and what they extract from every medical transaction. I saw a girl buy a pack of cigs in the grocery line. $9.29 and how much of that is the cost of producing that pack/ A gallon of gas? A cable or cell phone bill? It is all the guberment everywhere you try and conduct business.
Nobody wants to be Number # 200...? Well okay, I'll break the jinx.
I say sue the Lawyers, Doctors, Hospitals and Insurance Companies.
Comments about European "socialized" medical care made by the world traveler (above) are correct. I remember years ago that we had to send patients who could afford to travel to France for a certain type of heart surgery not available here, to Switzerland for angioplasty and to Canada for certain drugs not approved in the U.S. yet (amiodarone). If you needed a long stent, they were available only outside the U.S. The "Time Magazine" description of the major reasons for our highly defective health care "system" are also very accurate. However, the person who faulted the AMA for this is just wrong. No, I am not a member of the AMA. The AMA has very little influence in government relative to the hospital and pharmaceutical and insurance lobbyists. The fault lies with our grossly corrupt Congress. The prime goal of the members is to be re-elected not to serve the people. Since campaigns are of unlimited duration and not publicly financed, they always have their hands out for the bribes that the hospital industry, the insurance racket and the drug monopolies are eager to supply. After all, it's your money that they spend. The best thing that could possibly happen in this Country to make our health care system more rational is to have universal Medicare.
The large, relatively healthy base of younger people who would use fewer of their premium dollars would sustain the system indefinitely. Congress, however, would have to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. The Republicans prevented Medicare from doing this. As to trial lawyers and frivolous law suits, I have yet to see a judge allow one to move forward. The very few that result in out-sized judgments are almost always set aside on appeal.
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