Friday, February 22, 2013

Health Care Still May Not Work and Here's Partly Why Not

The Bottom Line is Stated Right Here: Medical Costs — The Bills

Introduction to the article here that journalist, author/and health care researcher Steven Brill states in part this way:

Taken as a whole, these powerful institutions (hospitals) and the bills they churn out dominate the nation’s economy and put demands on taxpayers to a degree unequaled anywhere else on earth. In the U.S., people spend almost 20% of the gross domestic product on health care, compared with about half that in most developed countries. Yet in every measurable way, the results our health care system produces are no better and often worse than the outcomes in those countries.

Further, from Brill's study is seen here and it reveals  "... the plight of patients in this system: "They are powerless buyers in a seller's market where the only sure thing is the profit of the sellers."

Brill astutely cites specific examples of out-of-whack prices charged to real patients that illustrate his observations.

•  $1.50 for 325 mg of acetaminophen (generic Tylenol). For one penny less, you can buy 100 of those pills on, Brill found

•  $283 for a chest X-ray compared to the $20.44 Medicare pays

•  $199.50 for a blood test on which Medicare would spend just $13.94

•  $7 for an alcohol prep pap when a 200-count box retails for $1.91

There are many, many more examples in the article drawn for the medical bills of seven individual patients Brill studied and, in some instances, interviewed.

Steven Brill appeared on the Charlie Rose Show (PBS, February 21, 2013) -- can be accessed here from Rose's page.

I agree with Brill's solution as many others have a long time:  We need "Medicare for All" (my term) -- a one payer, one billing agency, priced decently, and it works great.

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