I saw three articles that disturbed me last week. Taken together, they are no less than frightening. All were printed in the New York Times.
First came an article titled “Insurers alter cost formula- patients pay” (New York Times, April 24). The main point is that insurers have changed the way in which they reimburse doctors and hospitals. The reimbursement has gone down, so the patient’s portion has gone up.
The second article, also printed in the New York Times on April 24, is called “Pricing confusion adds to pain at hospitals”. The main point here is that hospital bills appear to have no rhyme or reason, with the price for the same procedure in the same geographic area varying wildly, sometimes by a factor of ten or more.
Finally, in the New York Times on April 25, “Debt collectors pursue patients in hospitals” describes how employees of a collection firm, “Accretive Health” are actually allowed front line positions in their client hospitals where they can, and do, get right in patient’s faces demanding payment for expected or past services, sometimes before emergency services are provided.
Now put all of this together-
- We don’t know what something will cost and may be off by a factor of 10
- Whatever it does cost falls more and more on our shoulders to pay
- We will subjected to very extreme collection practices, including denial of services, until we pay what we owe.
Now compare this to the experience of citizens of every other advanced country in the world- costs are simply not allowed to come between a person and their need for health care.
We, the consumer, are about to get trashed, and it is time to do something about it! (Stay tuned for future posts).