Saturday, November 20, 2004

Medicare's dirty little secret

I recently had a surgical procedure. Nothing dramatic, in fact it was done as an outpatient. That's what we are supposed to do -- right? Keep costs down by not demanding a hospital bed and incuring the associated overhead costs?

Not in today's world, buddy.

What hospitals charge for supplies and services have been legendary for years -- $5 asprins, $3 alcohol wipes -- the list is endless of overcharges that hospitals use -- mostly so that people like Medicare pay them what the stuff is actually worth. And even at that, hospitals remain one of the richest industries in America. Buying up land and building buildings at a rate that is just staggering.

Here's the dirty little secret. The hospital says they want about $4000 for my procedure. (the doctor wanted about $2000 for his professional services, and got about $900, and that sounds fair to me, and he doesn't complain). OK, Medicare and I know that this $4000 that they want is wildly inflated, and actually paid them about $1000 -- which is probably what the operation is worth.

However, Medicare also bills the patient a deductable. It's twenty percent. Twenty percent of what Medicare has determined the procedure is worth? Not on your life ... twenty percent of that inflated bill that the hospital sends out ... my "copayment"???... almost $800 --- or almost 50% of the value of the operation.

What a scam on the American public -- all allowed by your friendly Congresscritter, who promises every two years that he is going to look out for your interests.

Remember him in 2004.


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