October 17, 2008
I find it interesting that a pretty healthy guy (he works full time as a plumber, even if he’s not licensed) and an ambitious one too (he wants to buy a business that makes >$250,000, though it’s not clear if that’s gross or net) has such a bill.
Does he have health insurance? If so, for what does he owe this prodigious amount? If not, what care might he have possibly purchased that cost ONLY $1200? That’s about the cost of a simple visit to the emergency room, according to the some bills I’ve seen from my insurer.
And how’s he going to save up to buy that lucrative plumbing business, when he’s got a $1200 hospital bill on the books? Will copays squash Joe’s entrepreneureal dream?
January 10, 2008
A top knitting designer and her husband had insurance, but even so when the husband got sick it threatened their finances — the mortgage became an “extra”. With typical Minnesotan understatement, she calls their situation “a pickle.”
If we – who are insured – can find ourselves in this pickle, then what about the 40 plus million who have NO health insurance (most of whom don’t qualify for state funded welfare based medical assistance?) We can do better than this – we are a nation of problem solvers!
The designer had the popularity to run a special fundraiser to help make up the difference. Read about it here. But she realized that other people might not have such resources. What happens to those other people?
Most of us have had crappy jobs and greedy bosses. Think of your crappiest boss and the people he/she was working for. Now imagine they can influence the health care you get for the rest of your life. How do you feel?
Marshall Goldsmith says that for him, it’s not a hypothetical exercise. Here is his letter to the Wall Street Journal came out on December 3:
Lyle Kurtz (Letters, Nov. 27) deserves a response. Dr. Kurtz says insurance companies have a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders. But whether you have insurance or not, there is no one looking out for you.
In 2005, I lost my job and was unable to pay the $1,250-a-month premium for COBRA. Later I discovered that my company charged that much to discourage people from getting the insurance.
I found myself in need of medical attention for an infection. I went to the emergency room, and when I told them I had no insurance and was unemployed, they showed me the door and told me to come back when I could pay. This happened six times while I lived in Michigan. No hospital would see me. They did not care. All they would do is give me a prescription for medication that I am allergic to.
I finally got a job but then had to wait six months because of my pre-existing condition, even though I had never been treated. After 17 months, I finally was able to see a doctor who immediately had me brought over to the emergency room. He said the infection had probably spread due to lack of medical attention. He performed surgery to drain the infected area. Unfortunately because of the length of time, it has caused many other health problems. For this reason, the insurance company has denied all claims that have arisen out of this. They say no hospital would have shoved me out, but that is what happened.
Even though I am employed, I have no health insurance because the company said that all of my health problems resulting from the delay in care are pre-existing and will be denied.
That is the state of health care and the insurance companies’ fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders. But what about the customers they are killing?
It makes no sense for employers are the primary sponsors of health care. They’re too inconsistent and too greedy.
November 30, 2007
“I do not deny that our charges look insane,” said Allan Pont, California Pacific Medical Center’s chief medical officer in a fascinating Wall Street Journal piece. By insane he means, for example, charging $6675 per night for use of an oxygen mask that can be rented from a medical supply store for $250 per month, or charging $791 for stockings that can be bought online for $12. It’s a pricing fantasyland worthy of a military contractor.
When all those charges were added up, the upshot was this: a patient who seemed to have good insurance quickly maxed out his $1.5 million total health policy, and was stuck with $1.2 million in additional charges. The hospital aggressively pursued the patient for his bill, including allegedly visiting the patient to discuss the bill while he was still recovering in his hospital bed.
There’s a convoluted explanation for this, of course. Dr. Pont explained that the crazy charges were “the reality of the industry,” and everybody did it. They reflect, he said, things like the fact that only a third of the bills it sends out each year are paid.
So in other words, because this poor patient got sick, he was immediately stuck with the bills of other people who got sick too. He wouldn’t have been charged for their problems if he hadn’t gotten sick. It’s very logical, right?!
Strangely, the hospital is not that proud of upholding the status quo. If they were, they wouldn’t have wiped out the patient’s bill when a reporter called them and started asking questions.