Posted by: AtlasMD

December 4, 2013

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This Is The Best Advertisement For Direct Care (And We Didn’t Even Come Up With It)

Stop what you’re doing and read this article from The New York Times. In a piece called “As Hospital Prices Soar, a Stitch Tops $500” writer Elisabeth Rosenthal relays multiple stories of outrageous hospital charges. California Pacific Medical Center’s tidy emergency room treated Deepika Singh who had cut her knee at a barbecue and a toddler named Orla Roche who had sliced open her forehead on a coffee table. Here’s what their bills looked like: Ms. Singh’s three stitches were billed for $2,229.11; Orla’s forehead was sealed with a dab of skin glue that cost $1,696.

And great job, investigative journalists, researchers, everyone who’s fed up with the arbitrary nature of pricing. According to government statistics hospital charges represent about a third of the $2.7 trillion annual United States health care bill, the biggest single segment. These charges are the largest driver of medical inflation, too, a new study in The Journal of the American Medical Association found.

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A Tragicomic Irony: Pretending To Be Uninsured Might Save Patients Money

Dark Daily, our favorite watchdog publication, posted price comparisons between insured and uninsured patients. The numbers vary state to state, but the overall trend is that insured/Medicare patients are on average being charged a third of what uninsured patients are. This is a polar shift from the 1950s, when the poor and uninsured were charged the LOWEST rates of any patient. But there was also an ironic finding, steep cash discounts are being offered to patients who can pay for a service upfront. “[It was] suggested that when hospitals offer such deep discounts for paying cash, patients with high deductibles may be better off withholding their insurance information and paying the cash price.” This reminds us of a great quote by Richard Feynman, who says, “The thing that doesn’t fit is the thing that’s most interesting.”

More Reading
Hospitals Generally Charge Self-pay Patients Top Price for Care, but Some Providers Now Offer Deep Discounts for Patients Who Pay with Cash” | Dark Daily 

LINKS: Rage Against The Healthcare Machine

h gilbert welchIn case you needed any more reasons to get incensed with healthcare’s exorbitant costs, The New York Times has you covered. First, you’ll want to read their piece about how ridiculously overpriced it is to have a baby in this country (“American Way Of Birth, Costliest In The World” via The New York Times).

According to the article, “Women with insurance pay out of pocket an average of $3,400, according to a survey by Childbirth Connection, one of the groups behind the maternity costs report. Two decades ago, women typically paid nothing other than a small fee if they opted for a private hospital room or television.”

And that’s just the start. Read more

More News Outlets Reporting About Backlash of Hospital Charges

Liz Kowalczyk of The Boston Globe is adding more tinder to the price transparency fire. Her recent article follows patients who are angered by surprise surcharges tacked on to their hospital bills for doctor visits and who are starting to challenging these fees — at times refusing to pay outright!

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Patient complains about being overcharged thousands of dollars by a Napa hospital for medical laboratory tests

Dark Daily published an article saying a community hospital charged Kathy Meinhardt inpatient prices for clinical laboratory testing when she was a walk-up customer. As a result, Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa Valley has found itself centered within a media flare-up.

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