[ExI] Medical Costs

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 18 09:08:07 UTC 2008

--- Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:

> Tom Tobin wrote---in that there insect thread---
> > Not having to even *think* about whether I can
> > afford a doctor's visit if sick, or an ambulance run
> > if injured, is one benefit I'll gladly pay taxes towards.
> But it's *important* that you always consider costs.
> You realize, of course, what will happen to the system
> as everyone takes this same attitude ("money is no
> object").

Well if you saw how much a hospital bills insurance companies for a
piece of gauze, you could get the feeling that the medical industry had
that attitude. It is a very strange industry to say the least. Most
hospitals are classified as not-for-profit corporations for tax
purposes although huge revenues are generated and quickly dissipated
before tax time. The federal government indirectly sets the costs of
medical care by negotiating Medicare contract rates with the hospitals.

Hospitals bill private insurance for about twice what it charges the
federal government for any particular service. The insurance companies
turn around and typically pay the hospitals between 60% and 80% of what
they get billed for and the hospital eats the remainder. Of course if
you pay out of pocket, you pay the full "retail" rate. So in what other
commodity does the government contract rate for that commodity serve as
a *minimum* price for that commodity? Certainly not hammers and toilet
seats in the pentagon.     
> You consider the "costs" of doing everything else, e.g.,
> taking the time time to post here, or driving your larger
> car to work, or eating out at a fancier place than usual,
> etc., etc., etc., (about 15 more etc.s).
> Presumably you would want to eliminate the costs you
> associate with inconvenience, too!  Why not with our
> better technology have highly trained personel at your
> beck and call over the web?  That is, any time day or
> night you want medical care, it's free.

Because medical care can't be administered over the web at least not
without some pretty advanced robotics.

> Not going to happen.  The rationing will take place
> other ways.

How, like charging exhorbiant tuition for medical school?

> The nice thing about having individuals
> face the costs themselves is that we obtain a very
> clear first cut on necessity.

Right, people are the best judges of whether they need medical care or
not. Which is why cancer patients end up being diagnosed too late for
surgical resection and macho men having heart attacks insist on driving
themselves to the hospital.  

Stuart LaForge
alt email: stuart"AT"ucla.edu

"Life is the sum of all your choices."  
Albert Camus

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