Insane Medical Bills
There is a facebook post going viral right now of a receipt for having a baby at the hospital with a 4-day stay in 1943. The receipt breaks down the total charges for labor and delivery and the hospital stay and comes to $29.50. In 1973, this same exciting event cost the new parents $63.00. In 2016, the average labor and delivery charge with only 1-2 nights stay is between $9,900 and 28,950.
The fact that the current American medical industry does not have a set price for any procedure is allowing individuals to be financially devastated by the insane medical bills to continue. If you are blessed to have great medical coverage, you may have fallen into the habit of never thinking twice about the amount the insurance company has to pay, only looking at what it cost you. But someone ends up footing the bill, and this continues the cycle of corruption.
Next time you have to stay in the hospital take a good look at your bill. Here’re a few things that ought to make you sick:
Each pair of Gloves used when nurse or doctor uses them on you may be billed as much as $53.00/Pair. The plastic bag they give you to put your belongings in is $8.00. The little plastic cup they bring your pills in is charged out at $10 so multiply that by 3 times per day for the stay. My favorite is the “mucus recovery system” charged at $8.00 (that’s a box of kleenex). Tylenol at $15/pill.
Hospitals routinely charge vastly different amounts for the same procedure. A California study published last year in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that after an appendectomy, patients received bills varying from $1,500 to $180,000. “There’s no system at all to determine what is a rational price for this condition or this procedure,” study author Renee Hsia of UC San Francisco told the AP.
I received this petition request from Change.org, and it struck a nerve with me and gave me a way to help stop insane medical bills:
I recently served as interim president of a Miami hospital and got an insider’s view of the healthcare system. Predatory pricing is the real reason the USA is suffering from health cost misery.
Ask the price of any healthcare service and you will always receive the same answer: “What insurance do you have?” That’s because billing is determined by how much can be extracted from each patient on a case by case basis. Because billing rates are not set, the health industry can prey on patients at their most vulnerable. And if you are out of network or uninsured, you pay the highest rates.
A simple blood test for cholesterol can range from $10 to $400 or more at the same lab. Hospitalization for chest pain can result in a bill from the same hospital for the same services ranging anywhere from $3,000 to $25,000 or more. It is not coincidental that healthcare, the only product or service sold without published, set rates, is the main culprit in much of America’s financial misery.
It is time for Congress to take action and require healthcare providers to bill all patients, insured and uninsured, the same amount for the same service. Hospitals, physicians, and labs should have continued freedom to set their prices, but predatory pricing — a different rate for each patient — must be prohibited.
When rates are set, patients will be able to shop for good healthcare value. Providers will be forced to compete based on price, quality, and service. Healthcare costs and insurance premiums will plummet.
But if we keep the status quo, we will continue to see rising prices, confusion and outrage over medical bills. We shouldn’t have a system that makes us so powerless.
Healthcare reform is difficult because the industry spends more on lobbying than the defense, aerospace, and the oil and gas industries combined. But together, we can fight and win. Please support the idea that to end skyrocketing health costs, real, set billing rates are essential. Sign and share the petition today.
Let’s all sign this petition and also it is perfectly legitimate to ask about pricing BEFORE you receive medical treatment.
New York Times: American costliest for labor and delivery
Recommended Reading: America’s Bitter Pill