Healthcare

How much does health care cost? Who knows?

I just received a statement from our local hospital where my wife received a laser procedure to correct previous cataract surgery. The charge for use of the “treatment room” was $3,973 … or was it? Medicare paid $406.14 and the hospital billed me $101.54 simply adjusting the balance of $3,465.32. 

On a doctors charge the fee was $85.00 and my private insurance allowed $74.98 and I had to pay 20%. 

My daughter took my grand daughter to the pediatrician with the flu. The doctor billed $200 (for a short office visit mind you). However, the member rate was $164.05. 

So, what is the real cost of health care? What price gives a fair return to the provider? 

Is volume unnecessarily increased to offset forced discount prices? 

Do the preset lower reimbursements from Medicare and even lower from Medicaid force higher prices for the balance of the population? 

What would happen if there was a fair single allowable fee for services regardless of the source of payment?

How can we declare health care affordable when we don’t even know its price? And yet this is only part of the equation. What about the use of health care, what is appropriate, and what constitutes quality? 

I suspect we don’t really know the answer to any of these questions and until we do we will never come close to efficient or what may be called affordable health care, affordable to every American that is. 

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2 replies »

  1. Here is a similar example related to auto repair costs. A synthetic oil change at one local Honda dealer is $65, $45 at another. I can get it done at a private shop for $40. If I buy the same oil and filter and do it myself the parts cost is less than $30. The dealer charges $75 for a cabin air filter; that only costs $13.Get a major service/repair performed and the costs really skyrocket with charges for parts that are 2-4 times the actual cost. There is a little less variability in hourly labor charges from dealer to dealer; but the charges for parts are all over the map. While the consumer has the ability to shop around for simple things like oil changes, once you get your car in a shop for any major repair, you are stuck with whatever they want to charge you.

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  2. A co-worker came up with a solution today. The law needs to be changed so that hospitals and doctors may only bill the lowest price they will accept from the insurance companies or Medicare. This will cause honest billing and finally true prices that you can compare.

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