For more than 15 years our company has been providing a health plan to the employees and their families. Employees and the company share the cost, paying 50% of the premiums each. Every year, in the last 10 years, the cost of premiums went up by somewhere between 15% and 30%. When that happens, we are forced to shop around for a better plan, another plan, just to keep the costs down. In the end, deductibles are now higher than ever, and premiums are higher than ever. Where is the relief?
Meanwhile, health care costs are about 20% of our nation’s GDP. That is insanely high.
You must read this lead article in Time Magazine of March 4, 2013. It is chock full of stunning facts and anecdotes that clearly show where the problem lies.
Here are some examples cited directly from the Time article:
- Charges for blood and lab tests for a chemotherapy patient amounted to $15,000, where with Medicare the same tests would have cost a few hundred dollars.
- A hospital charged $77 for each of four boxes of sterile gauze pads.
- A patient was charged $18 each for Accu-Check diabetis test strips. Amazon sells boxes of 50 for about $27, or 55 cents each.
- A patient was charged $6,538 for three CT scans. Medicare would have paid about $825 for all three.
- One hospital charged $333 for a chest x-ray. The national rate paid by Medicare is $23.83.
- On one patient’s bill under the category “Pharmacy General Classification” there was a charge of $108 for Bacitracin, a common antibiotic ointment.
- A patient was charged $24 per 500-mg tablet of Niacin. In drug stores the pills go for about 5 cents each.
- For Acetaminophen a hospital charged $1.50 per 325-mg tablet. You can buy 100 tablets on Amazon for $1.49.
- Hospitals charge $84 per bag of standard saline solution. Online, a liter bag costs $5.16.
The bottom line is: medical costs are so high because we let it happen. We willingly pay the bills, because when we’re in the emergency room, or the hospital, we’re scared “to death” and we’re not thinking clearly, if we’re thinking or conscious at all, and the system is rigged to take advantage of us.
Who protects us in that situation?
Isn’t that what we want from government?