February 21, 2013
First: I don’t doubt for a moment that Canadian hospitals have mark ups like these
We just don’t get to see them.
Soon after he was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2011, a patient whom I will call Steven D. and his wife Alice knew that they were only buying time. The crushing question was, How much is time really worth? As Alice, who makes about $40,000 a year running a child-care center in her home, explained, “[Steven] kept saying he wanted every last minute he could get, no matter what. But I had to be thinking about the cost and how all this debt would leave me and my daughter.” By the time Steven D. died at his home in Northern California the following November, he had lived for an additional 11 months. And Alice had collected bills totaling $902,452.
We all have to die one day.
Why is death increasingly looked upon like an affront to our “rights”?
And then there’s this:
Another pattern emerged from a look at these bills: some seniors apparently visit doctors almost weekly or even daily, for all varieties of ailments. Sure, as patients age they are increasingly in need of medical care. But at least some of the time, the fact that they pay almost nothing to spend their days in doctors’ offices must also be a factor, especially if they have the supplemental insurance that covers most of the 20% not covered by Medicare.
A comfortable member of the middle class, Alan A. could easily afford the burden of higher co-pays that would encourage him to use doctors less casually or would at least stick taxpayers with less of the bill if he wants to get that bunion treated. AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) and other liberal entitlement lobbies oppose these types of changes and consistently distort the arithmetic around them. But it seems clear that Medicare could save billions of dollars if it required that no Medicare supplemental-insurance plan for people with certain income or asset levels could result in their paying less than, say, 10% of a doctor’s bill until they had paid $2,000 or $3,000 out of their pockets in total bills in a year.
We’re not supposed to call old people “burdens” — but what if they are?
People want to live forever — at no charge.
It’s stupid and it’s sinful.
PS — Tort reform:
Finally, we should embarrass Democrats into stopping their fight against medical-malpractice reform and instead provide safe-harbor defenses for doctors so they don’t have to order a CT scan whenever, as one hospital administrator put it, someone in the emergency room says the word head. Trial lawyers who make their bread and butter from civil suits have been the Democrats’ biggest financial backer for decades. Republicans are right when they argue that tort reform is overdue. Eliminating the rationale or excuse for all the extra doctor exams, lab tests and use of CT scans and MRIs could cut tens of billions of dollars a year while drastically cutting what hospitals and doctors spend on malpractice insurance and pass along to patients.