After reading this article from the NYT, I am thoroughly disgusted anew with the American health care system. The article suggests ways for people who are out of work or out of money to find ways to talk down their medical bills.
Seriously? This article reminds me of another health care article that appeared in the times last week. The country profiled in that article: Romania. Now, nothing against Romania, but I would like to think that with all the advantages we have in the US, we would be able to cobble together a system that doesn’t remind one of “the second most corrupt country in the 27-member European Union.”
A system in which hospitals and doctors acknowledge that their services are outrageously overpriced, to the point that they are happy to take a percentage of the sticker value, work out payment plans, or accept whatever cash you have in your pocket, is that really the best we can do? Our system is so broken that the NYT is publishing a list of etiquette tips for discussing the price of your blood test with your GP? (Suggestions include “strike a deal before you check in” and remembering that you are “negotiating for your health, not haggling over a used car.”)
Am I the only one who’s infuriated here? Who feels like she is taking crazy pills? (Crazy pill discounts may be available; research the going rates and be ready to make a counteroffer to your pharmacist.) Reading this article is giving me chest pains! Thank goodness I’m not living in the US right now, or I’d have to search for “chest pain” on the DHH website and locate the average Medicare payment for chest pain ($5,732) before calling 911. How else would I know where to start my negotiations during my ambulance ride?
In Romania, “the bribery culture is so endemic that when they refuse bribes, some patients become distraught and mistakenly conclude it is a sign that their illnesses are incurable.” Bribery entered the Romanian health care system during its communist past, and now Romania and the EU have to work to extirpate it. The problems endemic to the US health care system are also linked to our past, but unlike the Romanians we do not have the shadow of an oppressive regime to blame for our broken system. In fact, we have absolutely no excuse for the state of American health care. The fact that many Americans will find this article helpful in their lives is a pitiful shame.
In the words of Oscar Rogers: FIX IT.