According to a 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?


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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. 

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. 

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 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 wonder countries like Greece and Spain are in such miserable shape."

They are in miserable shape due to ineffective governments and structural deficiencies. Northern Europe is doing well, and have more expansive welfare states than club med.

"Economies cannot continue to grow forever"

Of course they can. You need to look into total factor productivity.

"promised Social Security benefits won't be there in a few years"

Social Security is funded through tax receipts, current or future. It's quite possible there will not be any left as the boomers spent their entire adult lives sucking the state dry by lowering their taxes and increasing their benefits. In the countries where the boomers were more successful in redistributing the inter-generational economic flows to themselves, the more dire straits these economies find themselves in today.  

Because, there but for fortune go you. I understand why people resent having to pick up the tab for others, but they often seem to assume that fortune will always go their way. How does one prepare for health costs when one has no idea what they will be. There are, to my knowledge, no insurance plans without limits, exclusions, and other caveats. What if your insurance caps payouts at $1 million but your treatment costs $1.5 million? What if you lose your job or lose your ability to continue making premiums? 

Actually, paying for the treatment of people who can't get or can't afford healthcare should keep costs down. Unless, of course, you think preventive medicine is so much hogwash.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. 


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