Overcharged By Your Hospital?

Source: Are you getting overcharged by your hospital? Time to become a Smart patient | VentureBeat.

If you’re a patient represented by Medicare or Medicaid, you’re well served because these programs have significant market muscle: They negotiate prices below what it costs to treat patients. …..Time Cover  MedicalWith few exceptions, private insurers tend to be relatively weak when bargaining with hospitals, so that hospitals can extract from them prices substantially in excess of the full cost of treating privately insured patients, with profit margins sometimes in excess of 20 percent.

Finally, uninsured patients — also called “self-pay” patients — have effectively no market power at all vis-à-vis hospitals, especially when they are seriously ill and in acute need of care. Therefore, in principle, they can be charged the highly inflated list prices in the hospitals’ chargemasters, an industry term for the large list of all charges for services and materials. These prices tend to be more than twice as high as those paid by private insurers.

A fellow blogger clued me in on this report about why our medical bills are so high. I now have an electronic copy of this Time issue and plan to do several posts on it in the coming weeks.  We have a major problem with out present healthcare system. We are currently spending twice as much as any other country in the world on our healthcare and actually more unhealthy and dying earlier than most.

It seems that most in Washington, especially the conservatives, want to solve our problem by denying care to those who can’t afford to pay the full bills. They want to reduce coverage for those on Medicare and Medicaid and want to repeal Obamacare; they say that will fix our problems.  That and suggesting that people die early if possible. The Time article above shows us a very different scenario of the causes for our exorbitant spending.

I certainly hope that the results of this study are taken to heart by our legislatures. But since the article basically puts much of the blame on our hospitals and caregivers I doubt it will get much response from them.  The medical lobbies in this country are among the strongest around; they spend millions every year to keep these sort of reports in the background of life.

The quote above is the crux of the problems that are further explained in the article.  The guy that can afford it the least is the one to bear the brunt of hospital overcharges as they have no market power. While Medicare and Medicaid patients are “well served” as the quote says there are still many ways to reduce costs even further. The most obvious one that the Republicans in Washington so object to is the ability of that system to bargain with the drug manufacturers for reduced rates. That seems a no-brainer to me. It would reduce costs in those systems by several billion dollars every year.  It is indeed a low hanging fruit in healthcare containment that has been left untouched because of lobbying power.

Somehow or another we need to convince our lawmakers and regulators to start looking at cost containment instead of service denial.  I will be posting several more times about what this article found on “why medical bills are killing us”. I hope you will be as astounded by the facts as I am and possibly spurred to some sort of action.

4 thoughts on “Overcharged By Your Hospital?

  • I do not know of one conservative who would like to deny coverage to citizens who cannot pay the full bill. Could you let me know their name?
    You make excellent points. I just cannot get past you utter hate for anyone conservative.
    Sad- on Good Friday.


    • Janette, you DEEPLY offend me when you say that I HATE anyone!! I don’t hate a single soul on this earth. I always make it a point to call out that my views are about those in Washington, not you are anyone else outside of that group. It is more of a disappointment in some who I think are selfishly thinking more of themselves and their pocketbooks than they are of the their fellow man.

      You want an example of one person who want to deny coverage I will give the the prime one and that is Congressman Ryan who wants to repeal Obamacare and put the expected millions it will help back on their own. If you want to talk about politics you just need to get a thicker skin. You seem to be too sensitive to any criticism.

      I generally value your input but you sometime really hurt me…. But I will love you anyway…. I really don’t want to put you on my blackballed list as I think you do provide some valuable input. Just keep the Hate comments out of our discussions. I don’t think you hate anyone and I wish you would return the thought to me.

      You have ruined my day, Good Friday and all as your words will probably remain in my thoughts throughout the day….. But I love you anyway.


    • Janette, I don’t know what “done” means. I hope it is that you will no longer assume that I hate anyone, because that is a foundational thing in my life.

      “You do not understand what I am saying”… I don’t know why you would think that I don’t understand your two short sentences. You asked me to name one conservative who would like to deny coverage to citizens who cannot pay. I named the main one but could have added dozens to the list. Plain and simple, if you repeal ACA there will be millions of citizens who can no longer afford healthcare coverage. Pre-existing conditions alone would cause many many to not have coverage.

      [[[ Postscript March 31: After thinking about this a few days maybe you are emphasizing the word “like”. That is conservatives “want” to deny coverage but don’t “like” it. That is a strange way to rationalize something but…. ]]]]

      All I hear is “REPEAL OBAMACARE, IT IS SOCIALISM”. I never hear “and replace it with…”. I just don’t accept the premise that healthcare is a privilege for those who can afford it.

      As far as socialism is concerned, I know that is a dirty word for many conservatives (I don’t know about you personally) but you must realize that Medicare, Medicaid, Veteran’s benefits are all socialism at one level or another. Are all those on the conservative repeal agenda also? I really don’t know…

      Let us have our discussions and treat each other as well-meaning Americans who each loves our country but have differing views on how it should be run. I will respect the sincerity of your views if you respect mine.


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