The medical mess
This shouldn’t surprise me, I can read the papers and everyone knows that our medical system is seriously broken. Obamacare is supposed to fix at least some of the problem, and maybe it will. But without some fundamental change, we’ll just keep going down the same old road.
I spent 2 days in Kaiser in April, and the bill finally came in. I’m stunned. Gobsmacked. Amazed and astounded.
The numbers on the page are just so much accounting gibberish, designed to keep Kaiser in the profit column and having no possible relation to reality.
For instance, there is $17, 626 for “Operating Room services, general.” Very specific, $17,626. Not rounded to the nearest $5 or $10 or $100. Makes you think they actually figured out what it costs.
Except that I was never in an operating room. My “procedure” was done in the cath lab–which comes with its own, precise, $14,321 fee. So now we’ve spent $31,947 for the room for an hour. Plus $1,150 for sterile supply surgical supplies and $1,350 for other, presumably non-sterile, supplies. I don’t get to keep any of those drapes and wraps, either. They just re-wash them and charge another $2,500 the next day.
This is Kaiser, the cardiologist is on staff and salaried. Nonetheless, there is a bill for $7,288 for “Cardiology, general”.
I have no possible idea what “Specialty services, observation hours”, means. Is that the couple of MD’s who dropped into my room for 10 minutes? What else was there that was worth $10,500?
Ever wonder what a stent looks like? It’s just a tiny piece of tubular mesh.
The bill for that bad boy is $8,000. Pretty high price for a slinky.
All of this is just funny money. Kaiser is billing Kaiser, then Kaiser is writing itself a check, and complaining that they can’t make any money at the rates they charge me. Nobody can explain what all these charges are, or how they possibly relate to the real world. The numbers are very precise, the books balance, the accountants are happy. Meanwhile, even with Obamacare, there are too many uninsured in this country, and many more underinsured. Medical costs are a leading cause of bankruptcy.
Not that this bothers me in regards to my own finances–all I have to pay for this is $250, which I can arrange if I just mow a few more lawns. But it sure bothers me in terms of what it is doing to our nation. Yes, we spend too much defending the world and too little taking care of our own citizens, but that’s another argument. The question I have here is how can we make intelligent decisions regarding our national healthcare problem if we can’t get any sort of intelligent and honest reporting on what things really cost? Stents don’t cost $8,000, operating rooms don’t cost $31,947 for a 1 hour procedure, drapes that will be washed and re-used don’t cost $2,500.
Big Medicine is just lying about the real costs of medical care, and Washington lets them. The press lets them. Apparently, the public lets them. I just don’t understand. Maybe Kaiser will see this and call me and explain the bill, but I’m not counting on it.