Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Late Breaking: The Sun Rises In The East…

As I mentioned the other day to 'she who must be obeyed,’ I understand that Dayton just isn’t a large enough market to support two daily newspapers.
Nonetheless, surely the Dayton Daily News could afford to hire a reporter (or three) who would at least make an effort to explore more than one side of a given issue. Today’s rant is in response to this (literally) incredible headline:
The article, about a recent study done by the Service Employees International Union, begins by noting that a “patient without insurance coverage typically is charged more than twice as much for hospital expenses as an insured patient…”
No kidding!
In a related development, it was revealed that people with coupons paid less for a Taco Salad than those without.
Please don’t assume that I am heartless or uncompassionate about the plight of (many of) the uninsured. But nowhere in the article will you find the terms “insurance network” or “negotiated rate.” Because of such agreements, providers are PROHIBITED from charging more than a specific amount. If you’re not a party to the contract (i.e. an insured with access to network providers), then you don’t get the discount. And that is the WHOLE point of the exercise: all the rest – Medicare, medical bankruptcies, garnisheed wages – are simply red herrings. They have nothing to do with the situation. They’re there simply to make insurers and providers seem like heartless, greedy sharks. No doubt some of them are, but this does not advance the cause.
So, absent a pre-negotiated and agreed-upon set of discounts, the provider can – and should – charge what they will. It’s called the free market. Providers that charge too much, or who are unscrupulous or engage in discriminatory practices, will eventually be run out of business, or be subject to fines, or worse. Those that find ways to attract paying customers will see their business grow.
I love this conclusion: "The solution is to make sure everyone has adequate health coverage."
Yeah, like that’s worked out so well for auto insurance.
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