If you haven’t yet read Steven Brill’s comprehensive investigative piece for TIME Magazine about why healthcare costs are so high, it’s well worth taking the time to digest the 80-plus pages. The article is an indictment of our for-profit healthcare system, shining a spotlight – not on insurance companies – but on supposedly “not-for-profit” hospitals. According to Brill’s investigation of patients’ bills, hospitals are vastly overcharging for routine tests and basic supplies, costing patients and taxpayers billions of dollars and stuffing the hospitals’ bottom line. Pharmaceutical and medical device companies are also dining at the trough, their obscene profits kept afloat by Congressional lawmakers who receive fat campaign contributions by those same companies.
Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act, Brill writes, won’t do anything to rein in these costs. Instead, Brill predicts the ACA will eventually cause insurance premiums to soar. Brill’s investigation is more proof that the American healthcare system is a racket and is no longer sustainable. The healthcare industry’s insatiable greed is stripping the meager resources of Americans who have seen their wages stagnate over the last 30 years. Our nation will soon become bankrupt if we don’t reject the idea that health care should be up for sale. Expanding Medicare to everyone in the United States is the only way to stop the gouging.
The ACA is a creation of the private health insurance industry and will only benefit them. Everyone else will get “ripped off” and good! With Uncle Sam and the IRS as the “bill collector” thanks to the mandate. There are large out of pocket deductibles before the plans on the exchanges actually pay for anything. There is a long article in February’s “Counterpunch” on the plans that will be provided in the “exchanges”.
Without prescription laws and a few books from Amazon.com, you could take care of most of your basic medical needs without involving a doctor. Remember all a primary care doctor does is diagnose and prescribe. They don’t do surgery, or anything that is all that complicated. The two books I can recommend is “The Physician’s Desk Reference” and a good complete book on prescription drugs. I have one from Consumer’s Reports, but there are others. We could easily develop a “Basic Health Plan” at a per capita cost of about $3,000 a person assuming we quit wasting so much money on the sort of stuff most people never use or need in hospitals. My mother was hospitalized in 1948, spent about three weeks there and the total bill was $300. I was hospitalized in 1978 and realistically I would have been just as well off with the technology in use in 1948 except for the antibiotic in use at the time. There is one heck of a lot of “waste” in our health care system, which is why it costs so much!