Why Hospital Visits Cost So Much

Two articles on opposite sides of the NY Times’ business page yesterday neatly frame the crisis in medical costs. In the first, we learn that HCA, the largest hospital corporation in America, was taken private in 2006. The investors in the deal put up $5 billion and borrowed about $28 billion more. It’s not clear what added value that move brought to patients, but now, instead of paying back all that money, the new owners are paying themselves a fat multi-billion dollar dividend. Who pays for that? Patients, that’s who, in the form of higher prices. (Details are here: Shareholders Deciding a Dividend.)

On the other side of the page we learn that hospitals now spend $35 billion a year on patients who don’t have insurance. Who pays for that? The patients who do. That’s probably one reason why hospital bills are designed to be incomprehensible, with obscene prices like a $75 charge for a 35 cent disposable scalpel (true story). (Details are here: Bills Stalled, Hospitals Fear Rising Unpaid Care.)

I assume that people reading this blog fall into one of three groups: members of a union (whose medical costs go up every year and threaten to detonate every new contract), people who buy their own health insurance (at exorbitant prices because they’re not part of a risk pool) and people who get along without insurance (and end up using the emergency room the rest of us pay for). Is this system working for any of us?

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Explore posts in the same categories: Editors Guild, Labor, Uncategorized

One Comment on “Why Hospital Visits Cost So Much”

  1. Robin Buday Says:

    By the sound of it it’s working for the people who don’t have insurance…


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