Picked up a plastic doo-dad from the pharmacy yesterday. It’s just a plastic tube that goes with an inhaler, makes it easier to get a full dose of medicine or something. Whatever. It’s just a piece of plastic, no drugs of any kind. Still, the pharmacy would not sell it to me without a prescription, probably because it’s a “medical device”, and insurance won’t pay for it unless a doctor specifically orders it, and because of all this administrative overhead what should cost a dollar ends up costing the insurance company a zillion bucks.
Which gives me an excuse to quote Dr G. Keith Smith of Surgery Center of Oklahoma:
Prior to Medicare, the cost of hospital care was affordable for all but the extremely poor. The hospital bill for my birth in 1961 was less than $100, a small amount even taking inflation into account. Retired orthopedic surgeons have told me that repair of hip fractures in the pre-Medicare days ran about $300.
What happened? Medicare happened. Physicians wanted nothing to do with this scheme in the early days of the program, so to sweeten the pot, the federal government offered to pay whatever the physicians wanted to charge.
Guess what happened to physician fees?
In 1998, laser eye surgery cost more than $2200 per eye; today it’s about half that, though it’s not covered by insurance plans or by Medicare. Or maybe because it’s not covered by insurance plans or by Medicare, which have their own ideas about what medical procedures should cost.
Dr Smith, along these same lines:
If you walk in to an ophthalmologist’s office and ask them how much they will charge for your Lasik surgery, you will get an answer. An amount. No “ifs, ands or buts.” Try this at your local hospital. Ask them how much for your hernia surgery or your gallbladder removal. Good luck. You probably won’t get an answer, and if you do, the amount will shock you.
Then again, nothing about health-care costs shocks me anymore, except for the claims by various governmental types that they’re going to “control” those costs. Sure they are.