Bitter Pill

dockside_gwMarch 5, 2013

"Bitter Pill" is the name of the article published by Time magazine in their March 4, 2013, issue. It is almost the entire magazine - 39 pages. It is about the state of health care in the U.S. and shows how medical bills are killing us. The author, Steven Brill, did an extensive investigation into the cost of medical care in U.S. hospitals (most of them "non-profit"). Most of the charges are determined by a heretofore unheard of mechanism called the "chargemaster", a computer device that has no relationship to costs that hospitals actually incur in caring for patients.

I'd recommend investing in healthcare stocks. The medical industry composed of doctors, hospitals, medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies, spend more on lobbying Congress than any other industry. Congress is owned by this industry. We are the only country that has laws forbidding Congress from negotiating prices on health care, thus giving pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies carte blanche to charge incredibly high prices just because they can. And then, hospitals mark up these items and charge the end consumer 100 to 1,000 times the cost of what they paid. It's not the doctors and nurses and those in the trenches that are getting the rewards for the care they provide. It's the hospital CEOs, some of whom are paid over $10,000,000 a year and most of them over $1,000,000 a year even if they are CEOs at state-owned university hospitals (and the presidents of the universities are paid a fraction of what hospital CEOs are paid).

Get a copy and spend an hour or two reading it. I doubt that contacting your Congressperson will make a difference, so I'd recommend buying stock to protect yourself. But, as Jon Stewart said, when he interviewed Brill last week, his article might become the "Silent Spring" for health care.

The only bright spot is Medicare. Medicare costs are calculated and paid based on the costs that hospitals incur, overhead, and profits. Hospitals make money off Medicare (there are billboards all through central Florida put up by hospitals trying to get Medicare patients).

Here is a link that might be useful: Outrageous pricing and egregious profits

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

At current rates I am spending roughly $100,000 for 5 years of medical insurance and property tax.

At current rates.

This year the insurance jumped from $863 to $1220 per month, in one go.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 12:58PM
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david52 Zone 6

WxDano linked to the Time article when it first came out.

Certainly worth the effort of reading.

Coincidently, this morning I ran across this missive by the author of the piece

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 1:40PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Thank you , david, for the link to the author's follow-up article. I get the point he was making (and am impressed with the amount of work he did to arrive at his conclusions), without having to read a 39 page article that would probably put me to sleep after about 5 pages maximum. Hate to admit it, but those kinds of details bore the heck out me--but I'm glad they are there so others (who know a lot more about these things than I do) can comb through them and determine how reliable his work is.

I take it that the consensus (by the experts in the field) so far is that he did a good job here?


    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 2:02PM
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I doubt you'd fall asleep Kate -- I did manage to read the whole thing, and it's an eye-opener. Worth all 39 pages.

As someone with an individual health insurance policy (read small % discount from the 'chargemaster' price), my healthcare experience is hugely different from that of someone covered under a large-group policy with some significant negotiating power.

Frankly, I can't wait to hit 65. Getting sick before then could wipe out everything we've worked for in, uh, 3-5 days?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 3:20PM
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Bottom line: they charge so much simply because they CAN.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 4:13PM
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Welcome to MY world, Sweeby...

No health insurance. We pay cash for medical services or medicines. Sometimes, we can't afford all our medications and make do without one or more. It wasn't always this way, but certain happenings have placed us behind the 8 ball.

Has nothing to do with choices made or personal responsibility.

Oh, well... this is life in America today.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 4:52PM
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