Stuff to Read

firearms, Health Care

It’s a long article, and I haven’t finished it yet, but do read “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us” by Stephen Brill in Time. In short, the reason medical stuff costs so much is that a large part of the Health Care Industry is getting away with outrageously high profit margins and is bleeding the economy dry.

Recchi’s bill and six others examined line by line for this article offer a closeup window into what happens when powerless buyers — whether they are people like Recchi or big health-insurance companies — meet sellers in what is the ultimate seller’s market.

The result is a uniquely American gold rush for those who provide everything from wonder drugs to canes to high-tech implants to CT scans to hospital bill-coding and collection services. In hundreds of small and midsize cities across the country — from Stamford, Conn., to Marlton, N.J., to Oklahoma City — the American health care market has transformed tax-exempt “nonprofit” hospitals into the towns’ most profitable businesses and largest employers, often presided over by the regions’ most richly compensated executives. And in our largest cities, the system offers lavish paychecks even to midlevel hospital managers, like the 14 administrators at New York City’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center who are paid over $500,000 a year, including six who make over $1 million.

Of course, the answer to this problem is to let the Holy Free Market (blessed be It) reign unfettered. (/snark)

Elsewhere — lawmakers in several states want to make gun owners buy liability insurance. And “Governors Fall Away in G.O.P. Opposition to More Medicaid.”

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  1. joanr16  •  Feb 22, 2013 @1:13 pm

    Of course, the answer to this problem is to let the Holy Free Market (blessed be It) reign unfettered.

    Uh-oh… that’s sure to attract trollery from the Walking Dead!

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 22, 2013 @1:29 pm

    I’ve a longer story that I may tell in a few days, but I’ll keep it as short as I can for now.
    I’m kind of stuck in the health care system with my Mom – hopefully, she’ll be 81 next Saturday – and I was born on her birthday, so it’s mine, too.
    She had an umbilical hernia a few days ago, so I took her to her doctor yesterday, who recemmended her to the same surgeon who handled my late Dad’s hernia 3 years ago.
    She was able to temporarilly press it back in, but had scheduled a (suposedly) minor surgery for Tuesday, to stitch-up the muscle wall, and put in a wire mesh.
    But first, she sent us to the hospital where the surgery was to be performed, for an EKG. After 3 hours there, they gave us the EKG, but I also got a call from the surgeons saying that with my Mom’s heart history, they wanted her to go to the nearby Heart Center, where I took her today.
    They did another series of tests, and told me that without a some sort of heart echo test next week, and some “nuclear stress tests, totalling about 6 hours over 3 days next week, no anesthesiologist would put her under, so they cancelled the surgery for next week.

    Overall, in two days, I filled-out something like 6 long and repetative forms, often a different version of the same one IN THE SAME FACILITY!

    Overnight, my Mom’s hernia came back out partially, so, I’ve got an almost 81 year-old woman who needs surgery, is in some pain, but, because of liabilty, no one will do the surgery, unless she passes all of these tests – like there’s some sort of a guarantee that she’ll survive even if they ok it.

    Ah, BUT, if the pain gets TOO bad, or the hernia bulges out further, I can always take her to an Emergency Room nearby, and they’ll operate on her.
    Because, it’ll be an emergency, stupid! And if I don’t take her, she’s likely to die. Unlike now, where she’s in pain, and all stressed-out about having to put-off an operation that she really didn’t want in the first place, but can’t do without. And there’s nothing like stressing the living sh*t out of an elderly person, and then make them go through 3 days of “Stress Tests.”
    So, her surgery is cancelled – for now.
    I have to be on high alert in case there’s an emergency, where I’ll have to take her to the ER so that they can do the operation that they won’t do unless it’s the emergency that they’ll create by having an elderly woman sit and wait to clear her for the surgery she needs, but which won’t be approved because of liablility.
    Uhm… Why not have me sign a form, since one way or the other, SHE’LL NEED THE FECKIN’ OPERATON ANYWAY?
    And she’d stand a much better chance of coming through a scheduled surgery, with all of the dietary and drug restictions having been followed, than in the middle of the night, or, after a meal and she’s taken her insulin and pills, and her guts pop out!
    “TEH STOOOOOOOOPID!” IT BURNS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  3. erinyes  •  Feb 22, 2013 @4:13 pm

    Sorry your Mom is going through this, Gulag.
    I was talking to a Canadian guy today about their health care system; he said they LOVE it. He is pretty well off, early 60’s and retired.

  4. Swami  •  Feb 22, 2013 @8:14 pm

    gulag …I hope you can get it straightened out with your mom…I guess ultimately trial lawyers will take the blame for your predicament. We’ll need more tort reform.

  5. Swami  •  Feb 23, 2013 @12:44 am
  6. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 23, 2013 @8:17 am

    The only comfort I can get out of this, is that she’s almost 81, the medical and health care systems know that they have a limited time to make more of a profit off of her, and so are giving her some more really sophisticated and expensive tests, less to check her heart, than to pad their pockets – even at the expense of weeks of abdominal pain for the elderly woman, and the stress for her, and her family, knowing that her hernia could much worse at any second.

    This is, of course, I very cynical outlook, but I can’t help it.
    In retrospect,I now realize that my Dad went through a lot of probably needless precedures when he was dying last year of cancer – and they knew it, and I knew it, and my father knew it. But, no drowning person ever turns down what they think is a helping hand – and their family member don’t either. Almost any procedure that promises to keep a loved one alive for even days longer, is never turned down. I really regret that he decided to go through chemo – and would have counciled him not to put himself through that misery – because I don’t know what, if anything was gained by it, and I’m not sure that it didn’t bring the end on even quicker.
    But, having said all of that, and all he’d been through in his last 4 months, he did pass away relatively peacefully in his own home.
    At this time, I don’t know what else to do, but wait, and hope that she passes those tests next week, has the relatively minor surgery, and comes home. I don’t relish the though of having to call an amblance to pick her up, and take her to the ER. But, it will be what it will be…

  7. LongHairedWeirdo  •  Feb 23, 2013 @5:09 pm

    Oh, ‘Gulag, I’m sorry about the situation. It really does suck.

    I do sympathize with the surgeons/anesthesiologists, to some degree. See, each of them are duty bound to point out these risks, and it would go against sound medical practice to proceed in the face of them. That is: it would be “malpractice”.

    There ought to be a way to get around this – there ought to be a way to say “the risks of surgery are sufficient to shorten her life by (actuarially speaking) a year; but the risks she’s undergoing now are shortening her life by 1.5 years. She (and I, her next of kin) *get* this, and want you to proceed.” But I don’t think there is.

    And it sucks. All too often, the human factor is ignored in medicine. All too often, people think about big sweeping numbers, and too little thought is given to “what we have is a scared, hurting old woman who deserves to have her suffering taken seriously, and deserves to choose what risks she takes.”

    Best wishes to your mom (and you – and please, *take care of yourself*).

  8. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 23, 2013 @6:59 pm

    Thank you very much for your concern.
    And yeah, I don’t see any reason why, one way or the other, since the situation won’t heal itself, my sister an I can’t sign a consent form absolving everyone involved – since she obvsiously will obviously need the surgery, planned, or un-planned – in the ER, or on a schedule that she planned and can deal mentally, physically, and spritually with.

    To me, that’s all legal ‘overkill.’
    Let seniors make the decisions that they want, and their families want, without fear of repurcussions for the family, the doctors, the assistants, and the medical staff.
    My Mom is fully wiling to take the chances.
    Why shouldn’t she, and we, as long as we absolve everyone of any blame?

  9. Swami  •  Feb 26, 2013 @4:31 pm

    Here’s an astute commentary that puts the Tea Party darling in perspective. It’s difficult to articulate exactly what repulses me with this creep, but metaphorically speaking I can identify with Bob Marley’s song..I shot the Sheriff..where Sheriff Johnstown says: kill it before it grows.