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The Health Care Costs Are Two Damn High

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on November 29, 2010

Two weeks ago, we had a minor scare in Casa de capper.

Rusty the Wonder Beagle had a growth on his backside, which the vet said was not cancerous and didn’t need to be removed unless something changed. Well, something changed and it started to bleed and ooze. We took Rusty to the vet post haste, and they ended up keeping him overnight and removing the growth. We authorized a biopsy on the tumor and fortunately it was benign.

Looking at he bill, which was a few hundred dollars, I noticed something that really stood out. The biopsy cost a whole $18. That’s it. Eighteen stinking dollars.

That made me think back to when my mom was in the hospital, dying from cancer. When we got the final bill from the hospital, there was all sorts of garbage on it. They charged $10 a day for the privacy curtain. She was there for five weeks. They charged my father’s insurance $3500 just to have a privacy curtain that was built into the place. They never took it down and washed it. They didn’t let us keep it. All that money for something that would be there whether the room was occupied or not.

During the time I was grumbling about this, some stuff came across my desktop, which only shows how serious a problem this is.

Health care costs across the state rose an average of 6.4%. Even though this is two or three times the rate of inflation, it is actually good news, since most years, the percentage increase is in the double digits.

Of equal or even greater concern is this report about how much the hospitals are charging ever more and more for their services by become monstrous health care conglomerates:

Hospitals’ pricing power has grown over the past two decades as they have consolidated to form health systems. With few exceptions, studies have consistently found that consolidation in a market results in higher prices – in part because health insurance plans often cannot exclude a hospital or health system from their networks and remain competitive.

And not only is the health care costs pounding us as individuals, they are a primary cause for the economy going down and staying down as the government has to deal with the coverage gaps for the poor, the elderly and the disabled, not to mention provision of health care for their own employees. To present it in such a way that even ateabagger could understand it, via Hullabaloo, is this video:

No coincidentally, these sky rocketing costs started about the same time there was massive deregulation. The original health care reform would have gone a long way to resolve the issues leading to this pattern of gouging, but it was, like with the stimulus, cut at the knees and bastardized so the reform can’t do as it was intended.

If we had leaders with enough testicular fortitude to have fixed it properly, it would have gone a helluva long way to putting money in our pockets, a lot more money that the Republicans are going to do with their phantom tax cuts. But then again, there’s just too many people that are still worshiping the almighty dollar and forgetting that there are more important things in life.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, Rusty is doing wonderful and is showing no downside whatsoever.

Addenda: Two more stories to drive the above points home even harder.

One, fewer employers are offering health care insurance, especially for the lower paid, poverty level wage jobs. This only exasperates the problem and increases the spiral as these people need medical attention, have no insurance and cannot pay out of pocket. Which in turn puts the costs higher for all of us.

Not only are the health care providers building Taj Mahal clinics and hospitals ever other mile, but they are now sending their executives off with multimillion dollar severance packages, even has they are laying off hundreds of workers and raising their rates.

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