from the urls-we-dig-up dept
The healthcare industry in the US is crazy, and it’s not a simple task to assign blame. Many patients aren’t paying out of their own pockets because they rely on insurance, but then this arrangement doesn’t provide any incentive for patients to try shopping around. On the other hand, even if patients wanted to shop around, it’s nearly impossible to determine what the prices of any medical procedures are because they vary widely based on the hospital and what payment arrangements have been negotiated behind closed doors. If you’ve ever had medical treatment that required any kind of specialized testing or surgery, you’ve probably never fully understood the resulting bill (congratulations to you if you do understand all your medical bills). Here are just a couple examples of some not-so-uncommon experiences with the healthcare system.
- Megan Rothbauer had a heart attack, and an ambulance took her to a hospital just three blocks away from a different hospital that works with her Blue Cross Blue Shield insurer. She was unconscious at the time, and the difference has forced her into bankruptcy from the medical bills. If she had been taken to the “correct” hospital, she would have owed about $1,500, but instead her bills exceeded $250,000. [url]
- Jeffrey Craig Hopper went to the “correct” hospital when he was accidentally hit in the eye with a baseball at a little league game, but he didn’t realize that even though the hospital was in-network, that the ER doctor who treated him wasn’t. Some states try to minimize this out-of-network billing practice, but during an emergency, it’s a bit difficult to shop around for urgent care physicians. [url]
- Massachusetts passed a law a couple years ago to make medical pricing more transparent, and recently, the state has mandated that insurers must offer real-time prices by provider in user-friendly formats. It’s a step in the right direction, but the information isn’t exactly consumer-friendly yet because the real-time prices change frequently and are often not listed for easy apple-to-apple comparisons. [url]
If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.