Health Care Costs

In most businesses, customers are presented with a selection of goods or services which are for sale, and then charged for which ones they select.

Medical offices do not operate under such a buyer-and-seller business model.

Instead, medical offices (clinics and hospitals) do not disclose which services they are charging for, and do not disclose the costs of these services. Instead, patients sign a vague agreement to pay all fees.

This system doubtless passes contract law muster, but doctors (as a regulated profession) should be held to a higher ethical standard. Patients should be informed, procedure-by-procedure, test-by-test, of total costs. Alternatively, patients may be informed of a flat-rate (say, so much per hour for a doctor’s time).

While learning about Canada’s horrific health care system prevented me from complaining for the rude wait time last month, Canada has nothing on the United States with regard to undisclosed fees.

(As readers may have guessed, the aggrevation comes from a fee for the service that resulted in the wait! The injustice!)

6 thoughts on “Health Care Costs”

  1. There is nothing quite like being told by your insurance company in writing they cover 75% of a service, having that re-affirmed by the doctor’s office, and then getting a bill 2 months later (claiming you’re overdue on a bill you were told about from the beginning) for 70% of the service cost, not the 25% you were expecting.

    You have no rights. You have no hope. You have no advocate.

    I thought my wife was going to hop on a plane back to Hong Kong after that. It took her days to calm down from being cheated in such a way in America.

  2. Eddie,

    Thanks for the comment.

    Sorry to hear about your bad experience!

    It is frustrating that Obama is spending so much effort to get his public choice through, when incremental reforms (insuring everybody, forcing doctors to disclose pricing, etc), would start to make insurance more functional and generate less tension.

  3. “It is frustrating that Obama is spending so much effort to get his public choice through, when incremental reforms (insuring everybody, forcing doctors to disclose pricing, etc), would start to make insurance more functional and generate less tension.”

    A point perhaps he may soon realize, if our prayers are answered.

  4. Advice on Daschle, who would have been Secretary of Health and Human Services [1]

    One longtime friend of the former majority leader said Daschle planned to advise Obama to “go on vacation, get off the airwaves and get your people off the airwaves” in an attempt to lower the temperature of the debate and give Senate negotiators more time to craft a mutually satisfactory deal.

    And in June, he joined with former Senate Republicans Robert J. Dole and Howard Baker in proposing a plan for universal health-care coverage that would not put the federal government further in debt
    Let’s hope Obama listens.

    [1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/21/AR2009082103633_2.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2009082103656

  5. Interesting…

    Daschle does work for the Mayo clinic (he and Janklow notably took sides against their native South Dakota, when the DM&E project to ship coal from Wyoming to the Great Lakes required requested to upgrade rail near Mayo). Ignatiuis notes things are fearing, and asks Obama to bring in someone from Mayo.

    Daschle by the back door, perhaps?

    If so, good!

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