According to a HuffingtonPost.com article, "When a patient arrives at Bayonne Hospital Center in New Jersey requiring treatment for the respiratory ailment known as COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, she faces an official price tag of $99,690.

"Less than 30 miles away in the Bronx, N.Y., the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center charges only $7,044 for the same treatment, according to a massive federal database of national health care costs made public on Wednesday." (read more)

The problem with healthcare is that it isn't a marketplace in the usual capitalist sense of the term, where market forces work to keep prices low. Keeping prices low in health care is pretty much on the honor system. 

When one needs health care, one typically doesn't shop around, especially when the need is urgent. One goes either to the nearest ER or where your doctor tells you to go. If you want to go somewhere else, there's a good chance s/he won't be one of the doctors who can practice there.

By contrast, when shopping for a car you can visit several different dealerships, get quotes, weigh whatever differences there are beyond price such as their reputation or extras they might throw in, and make a halfway intelligent choice, typically largely driven by how much you'll pay

This is the sort of capitalistic environment that functions to keep prices low in a normal marketplace. Health care functions in a very different way such that price competition hardly exists at all. Institutions that do try to keep costs down do so at their own peril, and may only be doing so due to the mandate under which they were created. For example, they may be run by a charity of some sort (yes, sometimes a religious charity) intent upon serving the community by keeping medical costs down.

What can be done?

 

Tags: care, costs, health

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What can be done?

From the tone of your post I can tell you already know what should be done. That is get rid of for profit insurance companies and employ a single payer health care system. But that will never happen in the good ole capitalist USA, would it? Especially not when Insurance lobbyist control our corrupt politicians. 

The problem with healthcare is that it isn't a marketplace in the usual capitalist sense of the term,

Yep and also gas prices. That's why they can charge whatever prices they want per gallon, and public would have no choice but to buy it, to be able to move around in our daily lives.

You are correct.  The solution is to remove profit from the system.  A single payer system with rigid safeguards is the way to go.  But as you point out the insurance companies and their hold over the politicians will not let this happen.  I have often said that no doctor should be able to buy a new Mercedes  because I have a heart attack.

Its kinda a tough issue(duh).  I agree the profit motive needs to go but where do we stop?  Make hospitals non profit but then do we also make the supplys needed non profit too?  Maybe regulate it all like we do utilities?  I think there should defitnately be at least the public option for insurance to help keep the other companies honest.  I do a lot of work in hospitals, and they love to spend money on making them look like palaces instead of places of medicine.  I think an underlying problem is that fact that as a nation we are so sick.  I'd rather see a national effort in place that encourages changes so that we do not have to go to the hospital as much.  And lets not leave out the drug companies.  Cannabis is gaining the ground it needs just not at the right pace.  But soon enough we will have enough research in place to warrant even more widespread research into that amazing litttle miracle plant and then they will really be taking a hit while the consumer grows many of their own medicines. 

What can be done?

Do what every other advanced country does: say no. They all have less privatized health care than the US and they all pay less for health care than the US does. That's what less privatized health care ultimately means. Control costs by refusing to pay more.

The US already does it with the Veteran's Health Administration, Medicaid, and Medicare. They all pay less for drugs and medical procedures (and refuse to pay for unnecessary procedures) than private insurance. Why? They figure out how much it reasonably costs and they refuse to overpay.

So why not employ this policy, which has worked around the world, right here in the US? We have, partway, with the Affordable Care Act, which expands Medicaid and Medicare coverage.

But of course, the Republicans have tried more than 30 times to repeal it. Because on the GOP free-market fantasy theme-park ride, health insurance markets can take care of themselves, and letting them do whatever they want means prices will start dropping any time now. Never mind that this approach has failed in practice repeatedly for decades, which is why millions were uninsured and prices were out of control in the first place.

A healthy populace is good for everyone.  In the 80s we decided as a nation that no one can be refused medical treatment when they come to the ER.  Well now that is biting us in the ass because what preventative care could take care of is now costing us out the asshole to deal with once its a full blown emergency.  Those that pay for it are going to one way or another.  Personally I'd like to go the cheaper route.  The real trick would be to get America off it's ass and live healthier, but somehow being unhealthy has become some kind American rite of passage.  I mostly blame the food and medical industries but we all share it.  It may not be a constitutional right, but it's heading towards a privilage that only the very well off will be able to afford at the rate we are going. 

I have learned that suggesting to my unhealthy friends that perhaps their heavy food or drink consumption is killing them has become politically incorrect. Oh however It's OK if people make a joke if I order soup or salad as a meal or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Earlier generations didn't require routine knee replacements. I agree, being unhealthy has become some kind American rite of passage.

Sad but true Robert. 

So what is your solution?   Do we let the uninsured die because they can't pay for medical care?  If that is your solution man up and say so. 

Ron Humphrey: Do we let the uninsured die because they can't pay for medical care?

Roger: Yes.

Sweet music to my ears.

The Republicans tried to sell "let 'em die" as "health care reform" during the last two elections. They got pummeled.

McCain wanted to gamble social security on the stock market and was saying the economy was strong right before the Great Recession. The Ryan Plan would have gutted Medicaid and Medicare and showered the rich with another round of Bush-era tax cuts (none of it funded). They even had the child rapists in the Catholic Church saying it was immoral.

By all means Roger, keep doubling down on the stupid. First, say veterans, poor children and the elderly are freeloaders. Then say they should die, so you get more money.

Freeloaders? Perhaps there are some, but is the mom working full time as a hotel maid and part time in a 7eleven, forced to leave her child in the hands of a neighbor your idea of a "freeloader"? What about the elderly man living on $1200/mo Social Security who's been impoverished by paying for the after effects of a traffic accident or business bankruptcy caused by having to compete against Amazon.com? Is he a freeloader?

Are you one of those people who sees everyone on welfare as a "welfare queen" (or "king")?

You don't see it as ironic that we Americans have the right to have a gun but not or health?

Unless you have a personal definition of "freeloader," I just pointed out that not everyone who needs and receives assistance is freeloading. Perhaps you prefer an "only the strong survive" sort of society where if you have something I want I just go ahead and kill you for it?

No one is entitled to a free anything, yet the federal and state governments continue to borrow $Trillion after $Trillion to hand out free entitlements that the world is expecting to get back.

What "free entitlements" are you talking about that "the world" is expecting to get back?

When will we start paying back those $Trillions and $Trillions?

We don't have to pay them back. The US has a floating currency. We print money. We grow the economy and shrink the debt as a percentage of the GDP. We never paid back the debt from World War II, which exceeded the GDP. We grew out from under it.

Look at it this way. A debt of $10 in an economy worth $100 is 10%. Grow the economy to $1000 and the debt is worth 1%. 

Spending is the economy. My spending is your income. Your spending is my income. The more we spend, the more the economy grows. The less we spend, the more it contracts as we try to underspend each other. This is the trap we are in now.

The US can't cut it's way out of debt or cut its way back to growth. It doesn't work like that and it never has.

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