Healthcare Mafia Wrote The Senate Bill

Steven Weissman Former Hospital President
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The GOP and the teary eyed Dems are working in concert to protect a corrupt system of pricing of medical services. It is the political hoax of all time.

As of noon today, shares of the nation’s largest insurer United Health jumped $2.71 to an all-time high. Hospital Corporation of America is up $3.03, near its all-time high. Pharmaceutical companies are skyrocketing too.

Politicians are actively conspiring to maintain a system that continues to grow industry revenue through increases in the price of medical services.  By design, total U.S. health costs will continue to skyrocket.

Health reform discussions are the worst kind of political theatre. Congress does the bidding of the industry which spends more on lobbying than the defense, aerospace, and the oil and gas industries combined.

Public political discussion is strictly limited to the extent medical costs are to be subsidized by the government verses direct payment by individuals. Either way, the medical mafia gets its money and we all lose. It is as if it were illegal to even mention the rigged system of medical pricing.

Ask any hospital, lab or physician the price of anything and all you ever get back is a question: “What insurance do you have?” A simple blood test for cholesterol can range from $10 to $400 or more at the same lab. Hospitalization for chest pain can result in a bill from the same hospital for the same services ranging anywhere from $3,000 to $25,000 or more. Your price depends on how much can be extracted from you on an individual basis, often at your most vulnerable. If you are out-of-network or uninsured you pay the highest prices. It is a vicious predatory system.

Industry apologists claim that everyone is actually “charged” the same amount, it’s just that we each receive a different “discount.” When your life and health is on the line, it’s the same as being robbed at gunpoint.

Total U.S. healthcare costs are simply the sum total of all invoices paid to health providers like hospitals, labs and physicians. Insurance is just a means to pay medical bills. High premiums are a symptom. The problem is the pricing of medical services which, in any other business, would be treated as fraud.

If any politician has the courage to challenge the healthcare mafia, the solution to health cost misery is simple and would slash health costs by at least 33% overnight (and the USA would still have approximately the highest cost per person healthcare on earth).

Congress must compel medical providers to play by the same rules that apply to all other sellers of consumer goods and services. They should remain free to set their own prices. However, providers must be prohibited from billing each patient a different price for the same service.

Legitimate pricing of health services will empower patients to shop for fair value. The existence of price completion in this protected industry would force providers to operate more efficiently and at lower cost, like all other sellers of consumer goods and services.

Legitimate pricing will impact the bottom lines of providers who do not want to change a system in which they are the only sellers of a consumer product that is exempt from price competition. As the share prices reflect, the desires of the powerful, elite health industry are being satisfied – not so much the rest of us unwashed masses.   

Legitimate pricing would also mean networks are obsolete. We would have the freedom to utilize any healthcare provider in the nation without being price gouged for being out-of-network or uninsured. Networks are an offensive and costly restriction on choice which nobody should tolerate – especially when making life or death decisions.

The actual problem with our system is that medical pricing is all smoke and mirrors and totally dishonest. Sadly, not one politician has shown the courage to challenge the industry’s death grip on pricing. Until that happens, I’ll stick to movies for entertainment. The political theatre is sickening.