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Fri Feb 22, 2013, 10:43 AM

Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us - Time magazine cover story featured on The Daily Show

http://healthland.time.com/2013/02/20/bitter-pill-why-medical-bills-are-killing-us/


You'll find Jon Stewart's extended interview last night with the article's author, Steven Brill, here:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-february-21-2013/doc-blockers


It's a stunning article, and I urge you to read all of it.

Just one excerpt from the first online page:

The total cost, in advance, for Sean to get his treatment plan and initial doses of chemotherapy was $83,900.

Why?

The first of the 344 lines printed out across eight pages of his hospital bill — filled with indecipherable numerical codes and acronyms — seemed innocuous. But it set the tone for all that followed. It read, “1 ACETAMINOPHE TABS 325 MG.” The charge was only $1.50, but it was for a generic version of a Tylenol pill. You can buy 100 of them on Amazon for $1.49 even without a hospital’s purchasing power.

Dozens of midpriced items were embedded with similarly aggressive markups, like $283.00 for a “CHEST, PA AND LAT 71020.” That’s a simple chest X-ray, for which MD Anderson is routinely paid $20.44 when it treats a patient on Medicare, the government health care program for the elderly.

Every time a nurse drew blood, a “ROUTINE VENIPUNCTURE” charge of $36.00 appeared, accompanied by charges of $23 to $78 for each of a dozen or more lab analyses performed on the blood sample. In all, the charges for blood and other lab tests done on Recchi amounted to more than $15,000. Had Recchi been old enough for Medicare, MD Anderson would have been paid a few hundred dollars for all those tests. By law, Medicare’s payments approximate a hospital’s cost of providing a service, including overhead, equipment and salaries.

On the second page of the bill, the markups got bolder. Recchi was charged $13,702 for “1 RITUXIMAB INJ 660 MG.” That’s an injection of 660 mg of a cancer wonder drug called Rituxan. The average price paid by all hospitals for this dose is about $4,000, but MD Anderson probably gets a volume discount that would make its cost $3,000 to $3,500. That means the nonprofit cancer center’s paid-in-advance markup on Recchi’s lifesaving shot would be about 400%.

-snip-

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Reply Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us - Time magazine cover story featured on The Daily Show (Original post)
highplainsdem Feb 2013 OP
truebluegreen Feb 2013 #1
OceanEcosystem Feb 2013 #2
Viva_La_Revolution Feb 2013 #3
Smilo Feb 2013 #4
abelenkpe Feb 2013 #5
highplainsdem Feb 2013 #11
a kennedy Feb 2013 #6
airplaneman Feb 2013 #7
L0oniX Feb 2013 #8
Kolesar Feb 2013 #9
BlueStreak Feb 2013 #10
moondust Feb 2013 #12
eridani Feb 2013 #13

Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 10:57 AM

1. A few years ago, my elderly MIL moved to Mexico.

Shortly after she arrived there, she slipped on the tile floors, fell and broke her femur in three places. She had previously had hip replacement surgery and the breaks started right below the pin. She required surgery to both set the leg and to replace the old pin with a longer, stronger one.

Long story short, she had the surgery, stayed several nights in a private clinic and then was transferred to a nursing home for recovery. The total cost, beginning with the initial ambulance, and continuing through surgery, hospital, doctors, and then the ambulance to the nursing facility? $5100. With no insurance. (This is near Guadalajara, incidentally, and the care is excellent).

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 10:59 AM

2. Health care should cost 10% of what it does today.

 

At the same quality.


I just do not fathom how such ridiculous and absurdly high prices take place.

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 11:46 AM

3. My new doctor gets it. He charges $77 for a 20 min visit

and yesterday I had blood drawn for thyroid 2 tests, $55 for both. I'll get my results by email Monday, and I won't have to return to get the script.

He is an ex-ER doc who got tired of seeing people come in for things that should have been taken care of years ago.
http://affordablehealthclinics.com/

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 01:29 PM

4. Labcorp are now making people

hand over their credit cards and will charge the full amount in case the insurance co denies.

In my case $986.00.

What do people do who don't have credit cards?

When you look at what the different charges are and then see what insurance pays it is ludicrous.

At the least we should all be paying what the insurance companies are willing to pay - at the best SINGLE PAYER.

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 01:36 PM

5. we need single payer medicare for all.

love this bit:

“The issues related to health care finance are complex for patients, health care providers, payers and government entities alike … MD Anderson’s clinical billing and collection practices are similar to those of other major hospitals and academic medical centers.”


See, everybody's doing it, so we do it too.

Corporate justification for profiting enormously off of peoples suffering.

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Response to abelenkpe (Reply #5)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 10:13 PM

11. +1,000

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 01:38 PM

6. and really, WHO DECIDED THERE SHOULD BE A PROFIT ON HEALTH CARE!!!

sorry for yelling, but I just can't understand how this got started?? D*mn.

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 01:43 PM

7. The CEO's of non-profit hospitals and non -profit organizations

like the American Cancer Society get multi-million-dollar salaries.
These are massive wealth generating machines that have nothing to do for not-for-profit anymore. It seem that the US capitalism ideal of rape them all for a profit has extended to the supposedly not-for-profit. We need to wake up and revolt.
-Airplane

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 01:46 PM

8. Sociopath blood money. How barbaric it is to profit from someones health problem. Animals!

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 02:20 PM

9. Shoulder therapy for my brother would cost 10x as much in a hospital as in the standalone business

The aide at the hospital told me that it was because of "facility charges". Hospitals charge a huge amount more because they are covering the care of indigent patients. Yes, I am talking about the people who wait in the emergency room lobby for "free care" because they cannot afford a primary care physician.

The facility charges are on everybody's hospital bill. The charges drive up my group insurance rates ultimately.

Yes, it all makes a good case for single payer health care like Medicare.

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 02:38 PM

10. More information in 10 minutes on Comedy Central than

in a month of 24-hour programming on Faux and MSNBC COMBINED.

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 11:07 PM

12. Health care is poorly suited to laissez-faire.

Too few manufacturers to create much competition plus consumers can't really shop around for best prices. Very little to hold down prices so they naturally keep rising as organized greed keeps sucking.

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Response to highplainsdem (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 05:30 AM

13. Comment by Don McCanne of PNHP

Steven Brill's TIME article, "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us," seems to be awakening those who have, until now, accepted the very high prices of health care as an inevitability for having a technologically advanced health care system here in the United States.

In his 36 page article - which will surely be required reading in many health policy courses - Brill makes it clear that we no longer need to take the "bitter pill" of medical bills that are killing us. Clearly, Medicare already has several tools to control costs and has the potential for further improving value in the nation's health care purchasing.

At the end of his article, Brill seems to be advancing a non sequitur when he writes, "The real issue isn't whether we have a single payer or multiple payers. It's whether whoever pays has a fair chance in a fair market... We don't have to scrap our system and aren't likely to." This certainly does not follow from what he had to say as the central theme of his article.

He then recommends some tired or inadequate remedies that would have very little impact on the problems that we face in health care. What is ironic is that he has built a tremendous case for the logical solution - an improved Medicare for all - and then he seems to dismiss it. You cannot read his article and escape the conclusion that a single payer national health program is an absolute imperative, that is, if we really do want affordable care for everyone.

Download this article (the full 36 pages is available for free at the following link), and share it with others. But put a Post-it note on it that states: WARNING! For the health of our nation, ignore the section at the end titled "Changing Our Choices" (that's the tired remedies section), but concentrate on what an improved Medicare system could do for all of us. http://healthland.time.com/2013/02/20/bitter-pill-why-medical-bills-are-killing-us/

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