News and Tribune


March 18, 2013

CUMMINS: Our nation should see a doctor


The government and insurance didn’t help you back then, but the “non-profit” hospital does everything for you now. Most hospitals don’t make a profit, but the people inside them do. It’s simple, they charge whatever they want to. 

“Bitter Pill — Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us” by Steve Brill is a recent and lengthy feature article in “Time,” magazine, which explains why we all might die sooner than we should. Maybe not, but our nation might crumble like Greece and Rome did if health care costs continue exploding.  Brill spent seven months thoroughly examining our health care system. He cited many cases including 64-year-old Janice S., who felt chest pains. The $900 ambulance roared to the $17,000 emergency room to see the $3,000 doctor. The good news, she had indigestion; the bad news, it cost her $21,000. Emilia G., a 66-year-old school bus driver, fell and blood oozed from her nose. She rushed to the emergency room for tests, scans and a 15-minute examination. Three CT scans cost $6,538. Medicare would have paid $825 for all three. The good news, a hairline fracture of her nose. The bad news, her nose cost her $9,418, which she’s paying off at $25 per week. 

 Get a serious illness and you’ll need gold bullion. Brill cited Steve H., who had a severe back problem. A one-day outpatient stay cost him $89,000. He was charged $308 for four boxes of sterile gauze pads, but the big-ticket item was a $49,237 Medtronic stimulator implanted in his back. 

Although our health care, not the system, is outstanding in many respects, the “non-profit” hospitals rake in millions. It’s capitalism at its finest with a little politics thrown in. Congress knows what is best for you, because “health” lobbyists buy, I mean, guide them. Brill cites the Center for Responsive Politics, which revealed that the pharmaceutical and health-care-product industries combined with other health services spent $5.36 billion on lobbying in Washington since 1998. It’s more than double what the military-industrial complex and oil companies contributed. 

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