Health Care Expenses Undermine American Prosperity; Let’s Start Restoring Medicine

I came across the website of Restoring Medicine recently and recommend you visit it if you are concerned about rising American healthcare expenses.

This graph shows the change in time of costs for various  consumer goods and services in the US over the last 20 years.

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While TVs and computer software costs are dropping, hospital services have increased 200%. As Restoring Medicine points out:​

Spending on health care threatens every aspect of American society. The time for common-sense reform has arrived. All of us can play a part in driving badly needed reforms, both in the marketplace and in the policy world. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Restoring Medicine is a “grassroots movement of people who believe that transparency can cut waste, expose the money games and lower healthcare costs for everyone.”

They provide patients with a  toolkit to fight against overcharged bills.

This 15 step detailed guide starts with

1. Ask for an itemized bill:

    80% of medical bills contain an error. Review the services and let the hospital know of any that were not rendered. Look for duplicate charges. Hospitals will often delete line items when patients report inaccuracies. Use this tool to translate medical procedure codes and medical diagnosis codes into plain language so you can understand your bill.

Don’t hesitate to submit your story in the healthcare system to Restoring Medicine by filling out the form on their website here.

Restoratively Yours,

-ACP

10 thoughts on “Health Care Expenses Undermine American Prosperity; Let’s Start Restoring Medicine”

  1. One of the problems is that patients have no incentive to question charges, at least the ones with insurance. I had a brain aneurysm stented last year. For a one hour procedure and one night in the neuro ICU, my insurance was billed $1 million. That included 14 flow diverters at $52,000 each. They could not have used more than one or two. I only found out about it from the EOB from my insurance company. I never received an itemized bill from the hospital because they were in network, and the insurance paid 100% of the allowed charges. What was there for me to fight? Exactly nothing, but this is an example of how broken the system is.

    These charges would have been a problem if I had no insurance or if the hospital had been out of network. I paid nothing, so I did not complain.

  2. That sounds like a very useful website / organization.

    I’d like to share an interview that presents a perspective that is not usually heard; it gets drowned out by advocacy for socialized / one-payer medicine. The M.D. being interviewed runs a fully transparent, free-standing, free-market surgery center that does not accept insurance and posts its all-inclusive prices at its website. It has the “non-profit” hospitals in his area running scared — and cutting their prices. The interview is very revealing about the almost unbelievable forms of deception engaged in by hospitals and insurance companies.

    https://www.econtalk.org/keith-smith-on-free-market-health-care/

    (The same interview is available as a regular, smart-phone podcast at EconTalk, which is how I listened to it; just search EconTalk in your podcast app. and look for the “Keith Smith” interview, dated Nov 18, 2019.

    The person doing the interview was not at his best; I eventually realized that he was so passionately in favor of what he was hearing that he went a bit off the rails. But the interviewee shines — a real gem — and is inspiring to hear.

    Disclosure: I’m a non-practicing M.D. and author of two medical textbooks who has no connection or interest with the man being interviewed (or with the podcast, or with any free-market medical organizations).

  3. This is not on medical costs. Should a patient be concerned with adverse effects after taking Lisinopril. I have been on this drug for years and have not had any issues. However, who knows what possible changes have been made to the drug. Larry Mrazek

  4. I have no reason to doubt these statistics (I see the source is the Bureau of Labor Statistics), but there are a couple of surprising findings–one is that the price of autos has been basically unchanged over 20 years, and the cost of housing is just barely above overall inflation. I’m sure NYC is an outlier, but it’s clear to me that healthcare costs (together with education and housing) have been the greatest drivers of inflation.
    It also seems likely that “production gains” in manufacturing have been so high because of exploitation of cheaper labor abroad. I’m not so sure that can never happen in healthcare–though for now most of the “cheaper labor” is domestic.

    1. It can happen in health care as long as home health care workers are exempt from the Federal minimum wage. Because of that, we were always very generous with the lady who took care of my mother in law, and we still are a couple of years after her death. I know that there are families who treat those workers like dirt, and it’s a crying shame. Those are people who are truly struggling.

      1. I was referring more to so-called “midlevel providers”–NPs, PAs–in dentistry we have “dental therapists” in some states–the mention of which triggers apoplexy among my colleagues (for obvious reasons).

  5. One way of cost savings that can be realized is to forego using your insurance and after reviewing the itemized bill ask for the cash price for the services rendered. In my experience this can result in a savings of 30%-50% from the charges generated by the hospital’s billing services department to the insurance company. The savings depend of course on the patient co-payment for covered services not uncovered ones but always ask because they do have a cash price.

    1. Klinn,
      Excellent point. I’ve utilized this technique for many of my patients who have large co pays. If you are facing a large deductible or co pay it always makes sense to ask for the “self-pay” price. I discussed this in detail on my post on “how much should an echocardiogram cost”

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