1. “The $2.7 Trillion Medical Bill” in today's The New York Times :
2. "Finding the Right Hospital" in The Atlantic on May 28th:
3. "A Lone Voice Raises Alarms on Lucrative Diabetes Drugs" in The New York Times on Friday May 31st:
“The $2.7 Trillion Medical Bill” reminded me of the Time magazine article by Steven Brill a few months ago on the same subject. The main points were about the variability in costs across different locations for the same procedure. Most patients don’t know how much a procedure costs until after it is done and the insurance company has processed or denied their claim. Both articles compare prices of medicines and procedures across the world, showing that the US has the highest costs.
I think it would be helpful if there were more standardization of prices and if it were possible to know up front what everything would cost. It would make it much easier to decide which procedures to have, to shop around for better prices and to make sure that medical costs would not cause financial hardship.
The second article covers patient satisfaction ratings and how, if at all, that may influence where one should go for treatment. It was very interesting because patients may not be the best people to evaluate their medical care. The article cites some examples where the ratings are high but the outcomes are worse. One commenter on the article stated “The closest analogy to hospital care is auto body repair. Both are insurance-paid and cost insensitive. And in each case the customer generally presents in distress, either by ambulance or tow truck, and in no position to choose. While both may advertise quality of service the customer is unable to judge that quality unless things go drastically wrong.”