As if we needed more proof our healthcare system needs an overhaul

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?

 

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    Jimmy Russell

    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. 

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      Gallup's Mirror

      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.

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        Nina van der Roos

        As a midwife (homebirth) I am curious to know how much having a baby cocsts in the US healthcare system, anyone care to venture a cost of having their child?

        To give some context here; at our midwife practice we would expect to take on a pregnant woman at about ten weeks, triage you into low, medium or high risk pregnancy and the same for the birth. Low and medium are channelled towards home birth, though can always opt to change their minds. I would expect to make 6 to 10 home visits prior to birth, instruction on diet, exercise, enrollment in our yoga, exercise classes. The birth at home attended by one of us midwives of course, two if one is being trained or already trained but being a mentor. After the birth a home care assistant, this can be a full trained midwife, child nurse or doula depending on the mother/baby requirements for the first month, follow up home visists for mother and child health from us for the first year (after this the child community nurses take over until the child is 4 years). this I would expect to come out of the woman's health insurance, typically 1100 euros.