Hospitals Are Blatantly Ripping Us Off

Scam - Public DomainMost Americans are deathly afraid to go to the hospital these days – and it is because of the immense pain that it will cause to their wallets.  If you want to get on a path that will lead you to bankruptcy, just start going to the hospital a lot.  In America today, hospitals and doctors are blatantly ripping us off and they aren’t making any apologies for it.  As you will read about below, some hospitals mark up treatments by 1,000 percent.  In other instances, basic medical supplies are being billed out at hundreds of times what they cost providers.  For example, it has been reported that some hospitals are charging up to 30 dollars for a single aspirin pill.  It would be difficult to argue that the extreme greed that we see in the medical system is even matched by the crooks on Wall Street.  These medical predators get their hands on us when we are at our most vulnerable.  They know that in our lowest moments we are willing to pay just about anything to get better or to make the pain go away.  And so they very quietly have us sign a bunch of forms without ever telling us how much everything is going to cost.  Eventually when the bills come in the mail, it is too late to do anything about it.

How would you feel if someone sold you something for ten times the amount that it was worth?

Would you feel ripped off?

Well, that is what hospitals all over the country are doing every single day.  Just check out what one brand new study has discovered

Some hospitals are marking up treatments by as much as 1,000 percent, a new study finds, and the average U.S. hospital charges uninsured patients three times what Medicare allows.

Twenty of the hospitals in the top 50 when it comes to marking up charges are in Florida, the researchers write in the journal Health Affairs. And three-quarters of them are operated by two Tennessee-based for-profit hospital systems: Community Health Systems and Hospital Corporation of America.

“We just want to raise public awareness of the problem,” said Ge Bai of Washington & Lee University in Virginia, an accounting professor who wrote the study along with Gerard Anderson of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Does reading that make you angry?

It should.

They are greedily taking advantage of all of us.

Other studies have come up with similar results.  Here is one example

According to National Nurses United, U.S. hospital charges continue to soar with a handful of them, such as Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus, N.J., going as far as charging more than ten times the total cost — or almost $1,200 per $100 of the cost of care. Meanwhile, the hundred priciest hospitals in the nation were found to have this cost ratio begin at 765 percent, which is more than twice the national average of 331 percent.

Much of the time, we are being overcharged for tests, services and procedures that we don’t even need.

It has been estimated that the amount of truly wasteful spending in the U.S. medical system comes to a grand total of about $600 billion to $700 billion annually.  That means that wasteful medical spending in the U.S. each year is greater than the GDP of the entire country of Sweden.

And of course almost everyone has a story about an absolutely ridiculous medical bill that they have received.  In fact, if you have one that you would like to share, please feel free to share it at the end of this article.  The following are just a few examples that were shared in an editorial in a local newspaper

Have you heard about the little girl who required three stitches over her right eye? The emergency room sent her parents a bill for $1,500 — $500 per stitch (NY Times, Dec. 3). My neighbor recently spent six hours in the emergency room with bleeding from the mouth. He was on a blood thinner, needed several blood tests, and his heart was monitored. His hospital bill came to $22,000. A California man diagnosed with lung cancer chose to fight his cancer aggressively. Eleven months later his widow received a bill exceeding $900,000.

One of the most disturbing trends that we are witnessing all over the nation is something called “drive by doctoring”.  That is where an extra doctor that isn’t even necessary “pops in” to visit patients that are not his or “assists” with a surgery in order to stick the patient with a big, fat extra bill.  The following is from a New York Times article about this disgusting practice…

Before his three-hour neck surgery for herniated disks in December, Peter Drier, 37, signed a pile of consent forms. A bank technology manager who had researched his insurance coverage, Mr. Drier was prepared when the bills started arriving: $56,000 from Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, $4,300 from the anesthesiologist and even $133,000 from his orthopedist, who he knew would accept a fraction of that fee.

He was blindsided, though, by a bill of about $117,000 from an “assistant surgeon,” a Queens-based neurosurgeon whom Mr. Drier did not recall meeting.

How would you like to receive a bill for $117,000 from a doctor that you had never met and that you did not know would be at your surgery?

This is how broken our medical system has become.

And of course this type of abuse is not just happening in New York.  It is literally happening all over the nation

In operating rooms and on hospital wards across the country, physicians and other health providers typically help one another in patient care. But in an increasingly common practice that some medical experts call drive-by doctoring, assistants, consultants and other hospital employees are charging patients or their insurers hefty fees. They may be called in when the need for them is questionable. And patients usually do not realize they have been involved or are charging until the bill arrives.

If you or a close family member has been to the hospital recently, you probably know how astronomical some of these bills can be.

And if you have a chronic, life threatening disease, you can very rapidly end up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

If you doubt this, just check out the following excerpt from an article that appeared in Time Magazine.  One cancer patient out in California ran up nearly a million dollars in hospital bills before he finally died…

By the time Steven D. died at his home in Northern California the following November, he had lived for an additional 11 months. And Alice had collected bills totaling $902,452. The family’s first bill — for $348,000 — which arrived when Steven got home from the Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif., was full of all the usual chargemaster profit grabs: $18 each for 88 diabetes-test strips that Amazon sells in boxes of 50 for $27.85; $24 each for 19 niacin pills that are sold in drugstores for about a nickel apiece. There were also four boxes of sterile gauze pads for $77 each. None of that was considered part of what was provided in return for Seton’s facility charge for the intensive-care unit for two days at $13,225 a day, 12 days in the critical unit at $7,315 a day and one day in a standard room (all of which totaled $120,116 over 15 days). There was also $20,886 for CT scans and $24,251 for lab work.

The sad truth is that the U.S. health care system has become all about the money.

A select few are becoming exceedingly wealthy while millions go broke.  One very disturbing study discovered that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.  And collection agencies seek to collect unpaid medical bills from approximately 30 million Americans every single year.

Once upon a time, going into the medical profession was a sacrifice and you did it because you wanted to help people.

Today, it is considered to be a path to riches.

If the U.S. health care system was a separate country, it would actually be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet.  Even though our system is deeply broken, nobody wants to rock the boat because trillions of dollars are at stake.  If it was up to me, I would tear the entire thing down and rebuild it from scratch.

So what about you?  How would you fix our broken health care system?  Please feel free to share your ideas by posting a comment below…

$83,046 For A 3 Hour Hospital Visit – Why Are Hospital Bills So Outrageous?

The fastest way to go broke in America is to go to the hospital.  These days it seems like almost everyone has an outrageous hospital bill story to share.  It is getting to the point where most people are deathly afraid to go to the hospital.  All the financial progress that you have made in recent years can literally be wiped out in just a matter of hours.  For example, you are about to read about an Arizona woman that was recently charged $83,046 for a 3 hour hospital visit.  How in the world is anyone supposed to pay a bill like that?  I have a really hard time understanding why a visit to the doctor should ever be more than a couple hundred bucks or why a hospital stay should ever be more than a couple thousand dollars.  Outrageous hospital bills are a real pet peeve of mine and I have not even been to the hospital in ages.  What makes all of this even more infuriating is that Medicare, Medicaid and the big insurance companies are often charged less than 10 percent of what the rest of us are billed for the same procedures.  There is a reason why 41 percent of all working age Americans are struggling with medical debt right now.  It is because our health care system has become a giant money making scam.  Millions of desperate Americans go into hospitals each year assuming that they will be treated fairly, but in the end they get stuck with incredibly outrageous bills and in many cases cruel debt collection techniques are employed against them if they don’t pay.

So why do we have to pay so much for medical care?  Back in 1980, less than 10 percent of U.S. GDP went to health care.  Today, about 18 percent of U.S. GDP goes toward health care.

And considering the fact that over the next 20 years the number of Americans 65 years of age or older is projected to double that number is going to go even higher.

On a per capita basis we spend about twice as much on health care as anyone else in the world.

In fact, if the U.S. health care system was a nation it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet.

America spent 2.47 trillion dollars on health care in 2009, and it is now being projected that we will spend 4.5 trillion dollars on health care in 2019.

Our system is completely and totally broken, and Obamacare is going to make things far worse.  We need to throw the entire system out and start over.

A perfect example of why this is true is what happened when 52-year-old Marcie Edmonds went in to a hospital in Arizona recently to get treated for a scorpion sting….

With the help of a friend, she called Poison Control and was advised to go to the nearest hospital that had scorpion antivenom, Chandler Regional Medical Center. At the hospital, an emergency room doctor told her about the antivenom, called Anascorp, that could quickly relieve her symptoms. Edmonds said the physician never talked with her about the cost of the drug or treatment alternatives.

Her symptoms subsided after she received two doses of the drug Anascorp through an IV, and she was discharged from the hospital in about three hours.

Weeks later, she received a bill for $83,046 from Chandler Regional Medical Center. The hospital, owned by Dignity Health, charged her $39,652 per dose of Anascorp.

What makes this even more shocking is that hospitals in Mexico only charge $100 per dose of Anascorp.

These days many hospitals will do whatever they can get away with on hospital bills.

One NBC News reporter was absolutely stunned at the bill that she received after she went in for neck surgery for degenerative disc disease recently….

Once I got my itemized bill, the grand total was a little over $66,013.40!   That was for a one night stay and a four level vertebrae fusion surgery.  The charges included $22 for one sleeping pill, $427 for one dissecting tool, and $32,000 for four titanium plates and ten screws.

I brought it to Todd Hill, a fee based patient advocate who helps people decipher their medical bills. “The screws in your procedure were billed at $605 a piece for a total of $6050 dollars. We’ve seen those in our past research for $25 or $30,” he said. “In this case, the markup is tremendous,” he added.

Considering the fact that 77 percent of American families are living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time, a single hospital bill like this can be a financial death blow.

If you have time, read this tragic story where one man was charged $11,000 and all he had was a case of bad indigestion.  Nothing was even wrong with him and now his family is going to have to declare bankruptcy.

Often medical bills are so complex and so confusing that nobody can really understand them.  A lot of the times this is probably done on purpose to keep people from understanding how badly they are being overcharged.  The following is from a recent article in the New York Times….

Hospital care tends to be the most confounding, and experts say the charges you see on your bill are usually completely unrelated to the cost of providing the services (at hospitals, these list prices are called the “charge master file”). “The charges have no rhyme or reason at all,” Gerard Anderson, director of the Center for Hospital Finance and Management at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Why is 30 minutes in the operating room $2,000 and not $1,500? There is absolutely no basis for setting that charge. It is not based upon the cost, and it’s not based upon the market forces, other than the whim of the C.F.O. of the hospital.”

And those charges don’t really have any connection to what a hospital or medical provider will accept for payment, either. “If you line up five patients in their beds and they all have gall bladders removed 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,” said Holly Wallack, a medical billing advocate in Miami Beach. “The insurers negotiate a different rate, and if you are uninsured, underinsured or out of network, you are asked to pay full fare.”

It has been estimated that hospitals in the United States overcharge their patients by about 10 billion dollars every single year.

Medical bills are the number one reason why Americans file for bankruptcy.  As I mentioned earlier, approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans are struggling with medical debt.

And health insurance is not as much protection as you might think.  According to a report published in the American Journal of Medicine, of all bankruptcies caused by medical debt, approximately 75 percent of the time the people actually did have health insurance.

And if you can’t pay your bills, many hospitals will come after you ruthlessly.

In fact, collection agencies sought to collect unpaid medical bills from approximately 30 million Americans during 2010 alone.

If you don’t cough up the cash they are demanding you can even end up in prison.  The following example comes from CBS News….

How did breast cancer survivor Lisa Lindsay end up behind bars? She didn’t pay a medical bill — one the Herrin, Ill., teaching assistant was told she didn’t owe. “She got a $280 medical bill in error and was told she didn’t have to pay it,” The Associated Press reports. “But the bill was turned over to a collection agency, and eventually state troopers showed up at her home and took her to jail in handcuffs.”

Although the U.S. abolished debtors’ prisons in the 1830s, more than a third of U.S. states allow the police to haul people in who don’t pay all manner of debts, from bills for health care services to credit card and auto loans.

But why do these bills have to be so high?  It is not like many doctors are getting rich these days.  In fact, many of them are going broke.

So what is the deal?

Well, as a recent article by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts explained, there are a whole lot of people pulling profit out of the system other than just doctors these days….

There are two main reasons that US medicine is so expensive. One is that profits are piled upon profits. In addition to wages and salaries for doctors, nurses, and medical personnel, the American health care system has to provide profits for private hospitals, diagnostic centers, insurance companies, and for the accountants, attorneys and management consultants made necessary by the enormous litigation and regulatory compliance cost. American medicine is the most regulated in the world and the most criminalized.

And another big factor is that the rest of us have to make up the difference for the patients that are not profitable.

It has gotten to the point where some doctors in certain kinds of practices barely make any profit on Medicare and Medicaid patients.  In fact, in many cases doctors actually lose money treating them.

An article posted on medicalcostadvocate.com has some outrageous examples of the difference between what you and I are billed and what Medicare pays out for the exact same procedures….

A patient in Illinois was charged $12,712 for cataract surgery. Medicare pays $675 for the same procedure. In California, a patient was charged $20,120 for a knee operation for which Medicare pays $584. And a New Jersey patient was charged $72,000 for a spinal fusion procedure that Medicare covers for $1,629.

So not only do we pay very high taxes to support Medicaid and Medicare, we also have to pay higher medical bills in order to make up the difference for the money that doctors and hospitals are not seeing from those patients.

Unfortunately, Medicaid and Medicare are expected to grow dramatically in the years ahead.

For example, it is now being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to Medicaid.

And enrollment in Medicare is projected to grow from 50.7 million today to 73.2 million in 2025.

How in the world can our current system possibly handle this?

And please don’t tell me that Obamacare is the answer.

The truth is that Obamacare is going to take everything that is wrong with our health care system and make it even worse.

For a good summary on this, please see this article.

In the years ahead it is going to get even harder for those that are not dependent on the government for health care….

-Approximately 10 percent of all employers plan to drop health insurance coverage entirely because of Obamacare.

-According to one recent poll, 83 percent of all doctors in the United States have considered quitting the profession because of Obamacare, and we were already projected to have a severe doctor shortage in the years ahead even before Obamacare came along.

We are heading into the greatest health care crisis the United States has ever seen, and none of our leaders seem to have any answers.

In a recent article entitled “11 Signs That The U.S. Health Care System Is Heading Straight Down The Toilet“, I detailed a lot more reasons why our health care system is a national disgrace.  If you can handle some more ranting I encourage you to go check that article out.

I am just absolutely disgusted with the condition of our health care system.  It is dominated by government bureaucrats, pharmaceutical corporations and the big health insurance companies.  It is a giant money making scam that seeks to drain as much money from the rest of us as possible.

So do you have a hospital bill horror story to share?  Please feel free to share your thoughts below….

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