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Free market alive in US hospitals -- but killing patients financially

  1. Mighty Mom profile image86
    Mighty Momposted 4 years ago

    What a shock: hospitals are charging different patients widely differenent rates for the same services! And guess what? It raises prices for every one!

    If you are privately insured, you should be pissed off at the cost shifting.
    If you are uninsured and paying "rack rate" you should be really pissed off (not to mention broke).
    THIS is why Obamacare is so important, people!
    No one should be forced into bankruptcy because they had to have a life-saving operation.

    Article is pretty compelling.These pararaphs are particularly disturbing.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/0 … ostpopular

    The charges are the prices hospitals establish themselves for the services they provide. Although Medicare and Medicaid don't base their payment rates on these figures, private health insurance companies typically do, which means they usually pay more for the same health care than the government does. That translates into higher premiums for people with insurance. And uninsured people are expected to pay the full list price or a discount from that number, which tends to mean they pay more than anyone else.

    When a hospital doesn't get paid as much as it wants from one source, it tries to make up the difference in other ways, such as billing so-called self-pay patients -- almost always the uninsured -- for the full list price of a service, said Robert Huckman, a health care expert at Harvard Business School. Even when hospitals agree to huge discounts for patients who can't pay the bill, those discounts are taken from inflated prices much higher than those the government or private insurance companies pay, he said.

    "The charge master is complete nonsense that really doesn't matter -- unless you are an uninsured person and you're getting these huge bills driving you toward bankruptcy," Laszewski wrote. "The biggest irony of the U.S. health care system is that only the uninsured -- often people who don't have a lot of money -- are the only ones the hospital expects to pay these incredibly inflated list prices!"

    1. profile image50
      Lie Detectorposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      A hospital charges $800 for an aspirin, I can get 100 aspirin for 88 cents. What does the free market have to do with prices at a hospital?

      1. Mighty Mom profile image86
        Mighty Momposted 4 years agoin reply to this

        Read the article. The hospitals aren't charging what the market will bear. They are charging whatever they want.
        Until this database, the consumer had no idea there was such wide disparity in prices.
        In the future, I want to be under the umbrella of patients who get the best prices,
        not be paying the highest.

        1. profile image0
          JaxsonRaineposted 4 years agoin reply to this

          Did you know there is a wide disparity in the price of wedding dresses, even though they all come from China?

          The market will bear what it will bear, and it will necessarily have similar products priced at different levels... but using hospitals as an example, as I said earlier, doesn't work.

          If only there was some way we could inject the free market into healthcare.

        2. profile image50
          Lie Detectorposted 4 years agoin reply to this

          They have always charged whatever they want.

    2. HowardBThiname profile image81
      HowardBThinameposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      Taking away a doctor's or medical facility's ability to charge what they want isn't progress - it's a guarantee of less healthcare for poor people.

      Obamacare is a joke. Sebellius is already admitting it will be difficult to implement and one of the drafters of the original bill called implementing it a "trainwreck."

      If a person has no insurance and a doctor agrees to treat him in return for a chicken, a car, or anything else - it's no one else's business. When someone says that all charges must be equal - that person has been living in the clouds a bit too long. 

      Anyone who think Obamacare is going to work needs to revisit this topic a year from now.  LOL

  2. profile image0
    JaxsonRaineposted 4 years ago

    You think that hospitals are a representation of free market principles???

    Sorry, no. It's very, very, very far removed from 'free market'.

    Easily accessibly compared prices are a good thing though, they increase competition, which drives down costs and increases efficiency. We could do a lot to reduce the prices of healthcare, but most people aren't even willing to have that conversation. They just want the government to step in, even more, and fix it. When the government makes a problem worse, they ask the government to do something about it again.

    1. Mighty Mom profile image86
      Mighty Momposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      Yeah, I guess "free market" was the wrong descriptor.
      As an economics guy, tell me what IS the right term for this scenario?
      A business has a price list, but customers can't see it.
      Different classifications of customers get charged different rates for the same service.
      And note that the government is actually getting the best prices.
      Those least able to pay for care are charged the most -- and aggressively pursued to pay. And believe me, hospitals do not easily write off your care as "charity" if you have a single asset to your name.

      Since the government is already getting the best price deal, why not extend that to more Americans?

      1. profile image0
        JaxsonRaineposted 4 years agoin reply to this

        That's called trying to deal with regulations.

        The government gets the best prices, because the government dictates the prices, rather than the business. In order to remain solvent, the business has to raise prices for everyone else.

        Price ceilings never work. Ever. They always have negative consequences, and usually will lead, inevitably, to total failure. For example, the tremendous costs for our energy infrastructure that we have racked up... we need to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to update our infrastructure, let alone provide new power, but the companies in charge of that infrastructure have been forced to charge a lower amount, so they don't get the money they need.

        What do you think happens when the government forces a business to charge everybody less? They'll just eat the costs, right?

  3. profile image0
    Sarra Garrettposted 4 years ago

    Every hospital bill or doctors bill is negotiable.  A lot of people don't realize this.  Yes, you can negotiate all of your medical bills and hospital bills because they are all over charging us.  I recently spent 2.5 days at a civilian hospital and my bill was $12k.  It was billed to the VA and the VA only paid $5k and it's a done deal, the hospital can not come after me for the balance. 

    Even if you don't use the VA, you can contact the billing department and negotiate down your bills.  As an insurance adjuster I used to do this for claimants and insureds alike every day.  I could basically pay 1/2 of the bill and the bill went away without any penalties against the person who was the patient. 

    I do wonder, where have the days gone where you could make a $5 or $10 payment monthly or bi-monthly and it would be accepted.  Now, there is a minimum payment and most places won't budge from it.  It is a hassle to negotiate your bill but it does work.