The Crazy Cost of Health Care

Stethoscope & ophthalmoscope
photo credit: a.drian

The cost of health care seems crazy. I had some lab work done last month and for one lab test I was charged $110. My insurance company decided that a fair amount for this test was $7. My total bill of over $450 was reduced to a total of $50.50. If I wouldn’t have had health insurance I would have been ripped off. This experience makes me wonder if the lab seriously overcharging at $110 or the insurance company is seriously underpaying at $7 or both.

I think that something needs to be done to better the nation’s health care system. I’m not necessarily advocating a nationalized health insurance plan. There would be plenty of drawbacks to such a system. I’m not sure what the answer is. For now, I just plan to keep my health insurance,check out my health care costs ahead of time as much as possible, take better care of myself, and hope for the best. With luck this will keep my health care costs from getting too crazy.

9 thoughts on “The Crazy Cost of Health Care”

  1. You make a great point,there is something screwy about how we are charged for health care in this country.I was having some major dental work done in early January of this year and even though I had dental insurance I got a bill for over $800.It seems my dentist stopped using my insurance at the end of 2008 and wanted the difference between his new rate and the rate he excepted 2 weeks before.They dropped the charged after I complained that they had not told me about the insurance change but still gimmie a break!

  2. I don’t know how true it is, but I’ve heard it’s the people with insurance that get overcharged because there’s a chance it might get paid. But I would hate to not have insurance and have to have major medical care.

  3. I think it works out well for the medical care provider both ways. If they overcharge an insured customer, then they can get away with it more often. And if they overcharge an uninsured customer, then they can just take the “deadbeat” to court and bleed him/her dry. It’s a win/win for the unethical medical care provider – and honestly I haven’t seen ONE that was ethical in the billing department. Legal, yes maybe, ethical, no way.

    Something does need to be done. People complain about socializing health care because “socialism is bad”…and yeah for the most part that’s correct…but you have to think…Isn’t it your moral responsibility to make sure less fortunate people have chance to survive? Let them have a chance to have a life that isn’t burdened by Murphy’s Law! Imagine what potential some of these people could live up to if they weren’t being screwed over by a bunch of greedy corporations and doctors. Imagine also the irony of complaining about potentially socializing health care when the same people haven’t raised a single word against the U.S. Postal Service, all police departments, fire departments, etc etc etc etc etc that are government controlled. I think they should get off it and realize what the important thing is here.

    Socialism is bad when it infringes on citizens’ rights and freedoms…not when it protects them from becoming victims of those who control the resources. That should be the government’s primary job – to protect its citizens from harm – financial harm included.

    Sorry for getting carried away. 🙂

  4. Hustler – They might try to charge insurance companies more but insurance companies are stingy with what they consider an acceptable charge. That is how I got my bill reduced so much. Perhaps they wouldn’t try to charge so much if they didn’t have to cover the costs of deadbeats.

    mrm – You make some good points about socialism. Most people don’t realize the socialist systems we already have in this country.

    Matt – Good post.

  5. It’s both.

    As someone who has dealt with both Medicare and regular insurance companies, I can assure you there is some price-raising going on. Doctors have to, almost. Because insurance companies negotiate lower rates, since they bring business the doctors’ way and because they have such a high volume of business with the doctor.

    If you look at most bills, you’ll see that insurance payments are completely different from what the actual charge is. Case in point: My husband went to a psychiatrist to get ADD meds. She charged around $150 an hour. Our chunk was going to be 50% of the insurance’s amount. So we got charged $35. That means the insurance company decided she was worth less than half of what she charged. So if she actually wanted to make $70 an hour, she’d have to set her rates higher, to be sure she actually gets something approaching her rate.

    Medicare is even worse. I have seen bills for $200+ doctor visits get paid at $70 or less. Great for me, since I pay based on Medicare’s amount. But pretty bad for doctors. Especially when you consider the debt they bring from medical school.

    Meanwhile, the people who REALLY need the discount — the uninsured — can’t offer to pay what an insurance company would. Even though the doctors accept insurance companies’ amounts all the time. Instead, they get, what, 2 or 3 percent knocked off if they pay in cash. Wowee!

    I wrote a rant about why we need to get on a single payer system and that is one of the big ones. This country needs to be sure everyone is covered. And, under a single-payer, you can buy better coverage if you want it. But everyone would have someone helping them negotiate medical bills. This current system is untenable.

    My husband and I both have chronic health problems, so right now we’re bringing in under $3300 a month and paying $502 to keep him insured. (That’s not counting the $500 deductible, the co-pays or the prescriptions.) With our rent and his insurance, more than 1/3 of our money is gone immediately. This system is just ludicrous.

    Of course, I also think that if we helped subsidize medical school, we could reduce costs a ton. If they don’t have as much debt to pay off, they don’t have to charge so much. (In return for subsidies, we could have them work at low-income clinics for a certain number of years.) Anyway I’m ranting now, sorry. But I’m just so sick of people saying that single-payer (ie no competition) would be ruinous. First of all, Medicare allows you to choose plans from various insurance companies if you “buy up” on coverage. So there is competition. Second, there’s plenty of competition right now and health care costs keep rising.

    Okay, I’ll stop ranting. Sorry again. But my husband and I spend most of our lives dealing either with the health problems themselves or the medical bills that result from them. And I’m well-versed in this bureaucracy, so how do the uninsured navigate this kind of stuff?! Most don’t even know that hospitals will help you monetarily. So we have folks dying of staph infections. Damn, I ranted again. Officially done now. Promise.


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