The New York Times has an article today about hospital charges which says, among other things, that “the charges you see on your [hospital] bill are usually completely unrelated to the cost of providing the services.” It asks why, for instance, thirty minutes in an operating room is charged at $2000 and answers its own question with, “There is absolutely no basis for setting that charge,” and that it is not based upon the cost of running that operating room.
And what did “health care reform” do to address this issue? Well, actually, nothing. The legislation does not even attempt to regulate hospital pricing, any more than it regulates drug pricing. If a drug manufacturer wants to charge $100+ for a pill that it costs 50¢ for them to manufacture, and many do precisely that, it can do so with impunity because “health care reform” legislation is entirely silent on that subject.
The article goes on to say that hospital charges, what is paid by insurance and what is paid by the patient, is determined by the economic power of the insurance company and the medical provider, leaving the patient caught in the middle. “If you line up five patients,” it says, “…and they get the same exact medication and services, if they have insurance or if they don’t have insurance, the hospital will get five different reimbursements, and none of it is based on cost.”
Simply assuring that everyone has insurance solves nothing. It tells of one patient who was billed by the hospital demanding immediate payment of $9200. It turned out that only one insurer had paid at the time of the billing and that all the patient actually owed was $142. What does the “health care reform” bill do to correct that problem? You guessed it; nothing.
Another patient was billed $25,000 which an advocate got reduced to $3,915 because there were billing errors by the hospital, and services were performed which were neither requested or necessary.
Supporters say that the scheduled reductions in payment amounts by Medicare will drive down the cost of health care. They might if they are ever actually implemented, but they have been scheduled since 1997 and every year Congress has “postponed” the scheduled reductions. Even if enacted, they will reduce the cost only for Medicare, not for health care as a whole, and they may very well increase the cost elsewhere as the Medicare reimbursement reduction is made up general medical practice.
It wasn’t “health care reform,” and even as insurance reform it was botched.