Health care costs you more than you know

  • Article by: DAVID GOLDHILL , New York Times
  • Updated: February 23, 2013 - 6:19 PM

Essentially, you transfer a growing chunk of your paycheck, never to be seen again.

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betty99Feb. 23, 13 6:09 PM

I agree with the writer on the need to control costs. It;s too bad congress is so worthless. As a start, let Americans legally buy meds from any country they choose. Our prices will decrease instantly

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pumiceFeb. 23, 13 6:33 PM

Re: "Let’s give every American health insurance, but only for truly rare, major and unpredictable illnesses ...for example, cancer, stroke and trauma." David Goldhill wrote a book on this topic and an article in The Atlantic. Among his ideas: (1) "This program would be best run as a single national pool, without underwriting for specific risk factors, and would ultimately replace Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. All Americans would be insured against catastrophic illness, throughout their lives." (2) "A typical catastrophic insurance policy today might cover any expenses above, say, $2,000. That threshold is far too low; ultimately, a threshold of $50,000 or more would be better. (Chronic conditions with expected annual costs above some lower threshold would also be covered.)" (3) "Every American should be required to maintain an HSA, and contribute a minimum percentage of post-tax income, subject to a floor and a cap in total dollar contributions. The income percentage required should rise over a working life, as wages and wealth typically do. All noncatastrophic care should eventually be funded out of HSAs." (4) "[M]ajor expenses (an appendectomy, sports injury, or birth) that might exceed the current balance of someone’s HSA ... should be funded the same way we pay for most expensive purchases that confer long-term benefits: with credit. Americans should be able to borrow against their future contributions to their HSA to cover major health needs." (5) "For lower-income Americans who can’t fund all of their catastrophic premiums or minimum HSA contributions, the government should fill the gap ... [Abolish Medicaid] Medicaid [and] make a roughly $3,000 HSA contribution and a $2,000 catastrophic-premium payment for 60 million Americans every year. That’s a $12,000 annual HSA plus catastrophic coverage for a low-income family of four." (6) "Some experts worry that requiring people to pay directly for routine care would cause some to put off regular checkups[, so] the government could provide vouchers to all Americans for a free checkup every two years."

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larrymickFeb. 23, 13 6:42 PM

Agree with the writer. Very few of us realize what re actual premium is. Also, insurance plans of the past have made it easier to inflate costs since we were able to get away with just co-pays and ignorant of the actual bill. We need to question before procedures the cost.

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crystalbayFeb. 23, 1310:33 PM

A 12-page article in this week's Time magazine is an alarming report of just how hospitals inflate their costs. Alcohol 2" pads for $3 each; the little paper cup pills are handed to patients in $5 each; a 5-cent niacin pill for $25; even a pen used to mark an incision site $25. Every hospital uses what's called "mastercharge" lists which mark everything up by as much as 600% over cost, then tries to bill patients who have inadequate or no insurance. CEOs making 3-4 million=dollar salaries and profits in the 16% range. Hospitals are a bigger business than oil industries or the military and consume 20% of the country's budget. This is the worst example of the so-called "free market" and entirely greed-based. The medical lobby has spent over 5 billion on lobbying to protect its horrendous profit machine since 2000. This is a runaway freight train with virtually no checks & balances.

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greg62Feb. 24, 1312:57 AM

Trial lawyers aren't helping by forcing doctors and hospitals to run expensive unnecessary tests to cover thenselves in the event of a frivolous lawsuit. Obamacare didn't even address this problem since it was written by 100% democrats and trial lawyers are where they get a big chunk of their donations.

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dibblegonFeb. 24, 13 6:51 AM

Does anyone know of a comprehensive publication that breaks down the costs of healthcare? As the old adage goes, follow the money. We need to shine light on this ad nauseum to raise visibility and direct focus on those entities sucking society dry. One would think an expose on this topic would garner a great deal of attention.

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propagandistFeb. 24, 13 7:08 AM

How many Americans are still pretending that we are #1? That we have it the best?

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joe_mnFeb. 24, 13 7:14 AM

It is insurance. U pay for coverage and may USE none of it. Any insurance agent (seller) will say u need to be covered. And u r lucky if u don't need it. Just keep paying. That's how the system works.

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joe_mnFeb. 24, 13 7:17 AM

A hospital has $3M or $5M or whatever costs per DAY. They see X patients. They need to get at least that amount from them. THAT is how they decide what to charge.

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rms316Feb. 24, 13 7:29 AM

The author brings up some interesting ideas and with some merit. But he incorrectly assumes, in his example, that the $6190 the employer pays toward the employee health insurance coverage will go directly to her salary instead. That is naive thinking at best. But the author, does do a good job relating some facts about how healthcare coverage is way too expensive. Until each of us, as individuals, start taking more responsibility for our health, and combine that will smaller, targeted community based care, we may not see huge, significant changes.

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