In Case You've Wondered

My blog is where my wandering thoughts are interspersed with stuff I made up. So, if while reading you find yourself confused about the context, don't feel alone. I get confused, too.

If you're here for the stories, I started another blog:

One other thing: sometimes I write words you refuse to use in front of children, or polite company, unless you have a flat tire, or hit your thumb with a hammer.

I don't use them to offend; I use them to embellish.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Cost of Health

I know people that avoid the doctor because they can't afford the cost. If you consider many doctors charge $150 dollars for just a few minutes of their time, it's understandable. That's a considerable sum if you add any prescription, which can cost just as much, or more. Even worse, the prescription may require refilling every month for the rest of their life. It's cheaper to reach the point of emergency and go to an emergency department for care.

So, what's going on here? Why does healthcare cost so much? That's my question, too. What exactly does it cost and how many hidden costs are there, which would be infuriating if known?

One cost I do know of is the insurance medical professionals carry to prevent financial ruin if they're sued. I've seen reports where this can be as much as a quarter of a million dollars per year. Otherwise, if a doctor sees one patient every 15 minutes for 8 hours each day, 50 weeks out of a year (give them two weeks vacation and ignore holidays) that's 8000 opportunities to recover this cost. Run the numbers and that's $31.25 per person. I'm sure this cost varies, but still, it's part of the cost for healthcare.

What about a staff member that handles the enormous amount of required paperwork? If their salary is around $40,000 per year after FICA and unemployment insurance costs, that's another $5 per patient. So now, just to handle the BS and high insurance cost, you've spent up to $35 dollars just to walk in the door. Neither you, or the doctor gets any benefit from this, except the doctor may feel a little more comfortable knowing they might avoid an ugly lawsuit, or intrusive meddling by a bureaucrat.

How about the costs for medical equipment? Have you ever seen what some simple equipment costs? I'm no expert, but a friend once worked at a facility that manufacturers machines for the medical profession. The retail value astounded me, but when they explained the high cost of product liability insurance, it made more sense. So, there's another hidden cost.

What about medications? It's only a simple pill, or fluid but they are so expensive. Why? How about research and development? Product liability insurance? The cost of dealing with the FDA for years? Attorneys? Lawsuits? It's an expense that has to be paid.

Now the part that nobody likes: what about the people that go to the emergency room and never pay anything? How much does that cost? A bunch? It costs hundreds of dollars just to walk through the automatic door. Add an MRI, or CAT scan and it's in the thousands. Even worse, the long term costs can continue for years, which are only aggravated by poor health choices or new complications from poorly treated problems.

So, why am I writing this post? I don't think the information we receive is accurate. I have many questions on how much it costs, including the costs for regulations, total insurance costs, interstate restrictions that hamper competition with insurance companies and the actual costs associated with can only be described as free healthcare, since nothing is free and somebody is paying.

It all adds up, and ultimately somebody gets the opportunity to make money, or the system is controlled by the government, which can only lead to wasted, limited resources and the ultimate reduction in medical professionals. Why spend so much time becoming a professional if you're forced to accept only what bureaucrats consider is just compensation?

Personally, I think the biggest problem with our healthcare is limited knowledge. If everyone knew what it should cost, instead of what it actually does cost, I think most people would demand accountability and be more willing to participate in purchasing an insurance policy that wouldn't be cost prohibitive. Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt I am; especially if the policy holders can be part of huge groups to balance the costs of those that need care with those that don't.

As it is, too few people are paying for others, and I think the government is a big contributor to this problem. There is a solution, but asking the government to fix the problem will end up like the budget. The government can't even balance their checkbook. How do you think they'll handle your health?


  1. My doc and I have talked about this. A general practioner does not net anything even close to those we consider rich. Especially after you factor in their student loan payments. I would bet a doc graduating last year as a general practioner probably has to live rather sparsely to make ends meet.

  2. Insurance has always worked just fine for everyone concerned, but 50 different states with their own commissioner working to secure the profits at an advantage to his own state works against the consumer's interest.

  3. It's only fairly recent that hospitals were directed by the feds that they could turn no one away. We used to have "charity" hospitals.
    When my wife last went in (via ambulance), she got a room in emergency (and rightly so), but out in the hallway were gurneys with patients on them chatting away or playing games on their phones and you would (as I did) wonder why they were there.
    No trace of "emergency" in their demeanor at all.
    There is so much mandated coverage for political purposes that drive up the cost of insurance as Joan alludes to. Each commissioner demands that level of coverage (abortion, "gender re-assignment", etc.).

  4. A few years ago I spent a few hours in an emergency room in one of the below average parts of town. I could hear several of the other "patients" with their "emergencies". One lady was there for a toothache said she couldn't afford to go to a dentist and wanted pain killers. She didn't appear to be in much pain, I know what a toothache is like, she sure didn't appear like she needed a pain killer. It was fairly obvious she was there for a script.

  5. There lies a problem. The emergency department is for life and death injuries. The costs to those that pay for medical care includes these wastes.