Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Galling (pun intended)

One reason I love Tuesdays is because that's the day the New York Times publishes Science Times. Almost always I find something in this section that I want to share.

In the Feb. 27 issue, Michael Mason has written an amazing piece revealing sites that help you bargain with hospitals about their sky-rocketing costs. I never knew you could negotiate with a hospital.

Get this. According to Timothy Cahill, president of My Medical Control, "The average provider -- doctors or hospitals -- has between 5 and 100 reimbursement rates for the exact same procedure. A hospital chain with multiple locations may have 150 rates for the same procedure."

I didn't know that. Did you? That's outrageous.

It gets worse. They keep the reimbursement rates a secret!

We're not talking small change. Mason writes that over the next decade, health care spending in the United States will double, to more than $4 trillion a year, a fifth of the gross domestic product.

Gradually, almost timidly, information is getting out. Mason says 32 states require hospitals to provide pricing information to the public.

I've always thought the health care providers -- doctors, clinics, hospitals -- have a goofy business model, if they have one at all. I have always wondered about the wisdom of young doctors and internships. Sleep deprivation does not make for good medicine.

Ah well, I stumbled upon this info just in time. I'm scheduled for gallbladder surgery next Monday. Maybe they'll be having a sale!

George

2 comments:

Denise said...

I can almost hear that auctioneer -- "I've got fifdy for a gall bladder removal... who'll give me fifdy-five... over here, fifdy-six.... sold to the HMO in the corner..." I've discovered you can bargain about all kinds of things, including college scholarships. I have a friend who bid her kid's way through to an almost free college education.

Anonymous said...

I can see this one coming...

PriceFlatLine.com

NAME YOUR OWN DEDUCTIBLE

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