This from the LA times on a physician’s visit to an ER for suturing a small laceration on his head. The bill, almost $5000 dollars.
Our republican friends say that by unleashing market price competition costs will come down. I’m sympathetic to the concept but it’s highly unlikely that will work in medicine. Consider the patient with a head laceration, is he/she going to shop price?
Consider the opacity and cost:
- It listed something called “M/S SUPPLY GENERAL,” which came to $1,247. Then there was another $2,425 for “EMERGENCY ROOM GENERAL.” (Medicynic: What does this mean?)
- “$360 for “PREVENTIVE CARE VACCINE,” Medicynic: tetanus booster that cost a buck or two
The doctor in the case wonders:
- “He has a hard time understanding why there are forces in Washington and elsewhere resisting the overhaul of a system that is built for profit rather than health, costs vastly more per person than systems in other industrialized nations and still shuns “great segments of society.” Medicynic: ME TOO!
Medicynical Note: In my state, Washington, unpaid medical bills total nearly a billion dollars a year. These costs get passed on, one way or another, to the insured–about $917/year. A large portion of these unpaid bills is from unpaid ER bills. With universal coverage, this excess expense goes away and/or is decreased by more efficient management of medical problems by non-emergency room facilities.