The blogosphere was alive this week with debate on healthcare costs. Yesterday we shared an Atlantic story that discussed the role of hospitals in rising healthcare costs. Another website has also been attracting a lot of attention that seeks to set the record straight about healthcare costs. The site was created by a medical doctor: TheTrueCostofHealthcare.org. Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys appreciate the professional’s perspective on this issue. The website it a helpful summary of many of the main issues related to medical costs.
For starters, the doctor explains that most medical costs are completely hidden. As a result of the hidden nature of the costs, they are easy to inflate without drawing suspicion. The doctor explained his own struggle in trying to figure out exactly how much patients were being charged for care. He noted that “like everything, the information is out there. It’s just buried so deep that it’s very hard to find.”
The site offers some interesting information on how patients are bilked on medication payments. It was explained how prescription medication costs are the single largest (and most common) cost for most patients, but the manner in which the drugs are sold is incredibly confusing. Pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies themselves work hard to make the largest profits possible by ensuring patients pay more than necessary on expensive medications, even when generics are up to 100x cheaper. Amazingly, the site notes that sometimes buying products on your own is considerably cheaper than even the co-pay costs-let alone the costs or the overall prescription drug plans themselves. Each Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at our firm appreciates that far too many local residents are taken advantage on these medication costs.
In addition, the doctor notes that hospital costs are “complete fiction.” The site includes samples of real hospital bills, indicating what was charged, covered by the insurance company, “adjusted” for the insurance company, and then actually paid by the patient.
One of the bills shows a two day hospital visit for someone who has private insurance. The bill shows that the two day stay leads to over $21,000 in charges-over $10,000 a day. However, amazingly there are insurance “adjustments” in the amount of over $19,000. The insurance company paid about $2,000, and the individual was required to pay $50. The $19,000 “adjustment” was essentially wiped out. The hospital actually received a little over $2,000.
It turns out that these “adjustments” are all negotiations between hospitals and insurance companies. A similar set of services as above provided to someone who did not have private insurance but only had Medicare would result in a different adjustment rate and different amount owed by the patient-likely more.
Our medical malpractice attorneys appreciate that the real problem comes or those who do not have insurance. The private citizen does not have the opportunity to force “adjustments.” As a result, for the same services provided to the first patient, the private individual would likely be charged $21,000, instead of the $2,100 that the insurance company paid. Absolutely nothing changed about the care provided except the medical providers use the lack of power of the private citizen to charge them 10x more than they do insurance companies.
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