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March 21, 2013

Healthcare exposé shocking, sick

(Continued)

Of course, while it appears the charge is for Dec. 27, we do suppose it is actually the room and board charge for our entire stay. But either way, we must admit that we have absolutely no idea at this point what was actually paid versus what was billed as we have received no accounting of benefits paid by Medicare. However, after reading this article on health care costs, we are almost willing to bet the entire $3,020 was not paid. In fact, according to the article, hospitals seem to be claiming that they lose about 10 percent on every Medicare patient they treat.

And the difference between what is billed and what is paid by Medicare was noted many times in the article. One of the examples pointed out that for a stress test using radioactive dye a self-pay patient was charged $7,997.54. Had this patient been eligible for Medicare, the hospital would have been paid $554 for the test. To us, it seems almost unbelievable that a self-pay patient would be asked to pay almost 15 times the amount a Medicare patient would pay.

And yet in spite of the reduced payments made to hospitals by both Medicare and private insurance companies, the article notes that when it comes to operating profit, non-profit hospitals across the nation to average about an 11.7 percent profit, which as the article points out is legal in that, “under Internal Revenue Service rules, nonprofits are not prohibited from taking in more money than they spend.”

After reading the entire article it is easy to see why Mr. Brill writes: “That so few consumers seem to be aware of the charge master demonstrates how well the health care industry has steered the debate from why bills are so high to who should pay them.” He then concludes the article with:

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