By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
Everyone in America should read this article by Marshall Allen at ProPublica and it should be required reading before ANY discussion about US health care. “A Hospital Charged $1,877 to Pierce a 5-Year-Old’s Ears. This Is Why Health Care Costs So Much,” it explores how unnecessary costs are passed on to patients. Unfortunately the public has been lied to for decades about why health care costs so much in America. I was lied to. Everyone is lied to. We are told that the high costs are either due to insurance companies or because of the government not offering us health care options, like Affordable Care.
But the real story is much larger and it has to do with the costs passed on by hospitals that patients often have no control over. That is why Americans pay more for health care than anyone else in the world. It isn’t because insurance companies and “evil HMOs” do something and the only solution is not to have more “affordable care.”
For years we have been fed propaganda about hospitals, usually through shows such as ER or Grey’s Anatomy, that present hospitals as a place where everything is almost charity work to help people. Except it’s not charity work. Hospitals routinely target patients for fake costs, or charge sums that may be up to 1,000 the amount something costs, such as an aspirin. They do this in order to profit off patients and move costs around. They have become addicted to charging whatever they want, bankrupting people or bankrupting states, with no check on their power.
Americans wrongly think that “affordable care” was “socialized” medicine. It wasn’t. It a real socialist system the government would take the power of cost out of the hospital hands and force them to charge reasonable costs for procedures. We are scaremongered about somehow receiving less care. But what is needed are federal and state investigations, including Congressional hearings, on hospital costs. For decades the public has been robbed in its most weak state, held hostage by the people who are supposed to aid the people.
You can see the lie if you watch some of these propaganda health industry movies such as Grey’s Anatomy. Remember the episode where a man’s insurance expires at midnight and the doctor changes the official time so that the surgery falls within the midnight time frame? That was in the episodes ‘Dream a little dream.’ This is all part of the scam of trying to get you to focus on the insurance companies as the “problem” when it comes to costs. But wait, the hospital is the one sending the bill and coming up with the cost of the surgery. All the episode shows is that the doctors pass on costs to those they think can pay. They aren’t being altruistic in charing thousands of dollars for procedures that cost 10% as much in other countries, they are just trying to get as much money as they can, wherever they can. They could decide to operate after midnight and not charge the full amount. They have flexibility, but they have been given the cover of “insurance” to charge whatever they want. If hospitals had to survive by covering what people could afford they couldn’t do this. If governments regulated hospitals and forced them not to charge $100 for an aspirin that costs 1 cent outside the hospital, then the hospital couldn’t charge the same amount. The hybrid system the US government chose under “affordable care” has not helped because it has refused to address cost as the major problem. It just passes on costs to the public, it doesn’t deal with why the costs are there in the first place.