The problem is obvious. A rare piece of good journalism - let's face it, this isn't exactly the age of Murrow - followed the path our healthcare dollars often take right now. They followed a guy who needed some hospitalization, something that wasn't life threatening, but needed to be attended to. They also asked for a detailed breakdown of all expenses incurred. What they found was ridiculous padding. For example, one ibuprofen tablet cost our patient well over $100.00!
So, they took this outrage to the management, expecting a little shame or contrition - or at least some effort at distraction, a little mendacity. What they got was bald faced honesty. The hospital said this was the only way they could recoup the huge losses being incurred with the uninsured. The ER has become the doctor's office for a huge number of uninsured patients. The hospitals incur the expense without any choice, for they are mandated by law that they must accept people who come to these rooms for help. It becomes worse if the person is admitted, for they cannot release those who have no place to be released to for care.
So, they went to the insurance company and asked why they didn't do something to stop this waste of money. The insurance company said they didn't even examine any claims of less than $100,000.00. Basically, they cover it with high insurance rates and high deductibles. In other words, the burden is on the shoulders of those of us who ARE insured.
So, what has happened here? Why doesn't the free market solve this issue like so many insist it can? I'm thinking that it is because it is not and cannot be a fully free market situation for one thing. It is not just to simply let the uninsured die and I don't think any of us want that as our solution. And, we don't want the insurance companies working to solve this by dictating what treatments each patient is to get, something far too many of us are facing from time to time, treatment prescribed based upon judgment of cost rather than as a medical decision. So, unless someone can plainly explain to me how the free market is supposed to solve this, I am at a loss to see how it can work.
And that last comment by me is part of the problem I have with this whole situation. The national debate has not been helpful! I don't want attack politics on this. I don't want ideology and I'm tired of nasty substituting for knowledge. This is too important for the health of people and the health of the economy.