Anyone who thinks the health-care apparatus in this country doesn't need radical liposuction should read through the new federal report on hospital costs.
Make that alleged costs. All over the country, hospitals are billing
A reasonable person might wonder why it costs almost three times more to treat bronchitis at Baptist than it does at the
The bills sent by hospitals to
While a patient with private medical coverage is responsible for deductibles and co-payments, his or her insurance company will ultimately pay the hospital an amount that bears no resemblance to the shocking sum at the bottom of the bill.
And the hospitals will happily take it. Why? Because the numbers weren't real to begin with.
It's not a harmless charade if you happen to be one of the 45 million Americans without health insurance coverage, and you wind up in an emergency room.
The bill that comes to your mailbox will be the same mind-boggling document that would otherwise be sent to
Most patients can't. The resulting hassle could screw up your credit and your life for a long time.
The federal survey of hospital charges, released last week, was the most comprehensive ever -- and the most embarrassing.
In response, some facilities with extremely high costs said they accept sicker, older patients who require more care. Teaching hospitals said their operating expenses are unavoidably higher.
Still, nothing but flagrant padding explains why hospitals routinely send bills to
Sometimes the charges equal 10 or even 20 times the known rate of reimbursement.
Do the math. If the expenses claimed were genuine and the bills were honest, all hospitals would be dead broke. They'd be losing money on every patient.
According to the feds,
Meanwhile, Jackson charges
That's the story everywhere. Hospitals reporting relatively sane charges for treating one type of illness will jack up the bill insanely for another.
Meanwhile, Americans have no way of finding out the true cost of medical care. The process seems designed at every level to conceal and confuse.
A new hip at
That's the only time those big heavy numbers are real -- when they get dropped on somebody with no safety net.
What a system.
- Joseph Nye: America's Challenge to Wield Smart Power
- America: The Naked Empire
- How will America Hold Together?
- Inhospitable Earth -- Compared to What?
- Paula Deen's Menu: Foot in Mouth
- Decrypting Snowden's Russian layover
- On Ending Perpetual War
- A Victim's Grandmother Takes on Gun Violence
- Time to End Imposed Ignorance of Guns and Harm Guns Do
- Selling Guns to Kids, Legally: Only in America!
- Disenchanting View of the Church Responding to Sexual Abuse Crisis
- Ryan Fogle Fiasco Underscores America's Intelligence Problem
- A Broken System Perpetuates Itself
- Extremism has No Race
- GOP Turns Against Its Own History
- Know-Nothing Security
- Guantanamo Bay: Indefinite Enemies
- The Hollowing Out of Government
- Once Again, Florida is the Poster Child for Scandal
- Why Mark Carson Matters
- The New Xenophobes
- Boston Marathon Survivor Has Long Road Ahead
- Five Major Hindrances to Counterterrorism Efforts
- Fight Gangs, Not Each Other
- Time to Update Census' Race Questions
- Rape and Winning
- The Dilution of Journalism
- Guns: Ignoring the Real While Fighting the Imaginary
- Inside the Superstar Economy of America's Big Thinkers
- Banking on the Poor
- Postmodern Prudes
- Immigration: Of Athens and Jerusalem
- A Little Humility May Be in Order
- Ending Violence in a Decade
- Chasing Infinity
- Why the Boston Bombers Succeeded
- What Next After Boston?
- Boston Marathon Bombings: Grief Without Borders
- Boston Marathon Bombings: Horror Without Terror, Just Anger
- Boston Marathon Bombing Parallels Toulouse Attacks
- Even in Tragedy, A Nation Divided
- Deportation: The D-word
- Boston Marathon Bombings: When Profiling Becomes a Real Menace
- Grassroots Militants from Chechnya
- Boston Marathon Bombings: 'Oh, My God'
- Pollution in the News Stream
- Drones: Anonymous Murder from a Safe Distance
- AP Should Not Stop with 'Illegal Immigrants'
- NRA's Task is to Frighten, Sell More Guns
- School is a Battlefield, and NRA Determined to Keep it that Way
- Gun Laws and Human Nature
c) 2013, Tribune Media Services Inc.