Steve Randy Waldman has an amazing (but very profane) rant about the state of the health care system, keying off of Steven Brill’s epic cover story for Time on why health care costs so much.Waldman’s post is so angry and profanity-laced, there’s really nothing we can share from it, but the paragraph that set him off from the Brill article should legitimately get anyone’s blood boiling.
By the time Steven D. died at his home in Northern California the following November, he had lived for an additional 11 months. And Alice had collected bills totaling $902,452. The family’s first bill — for $348,000 — which arrived when Steven got home from the Seton Medical centre in Daly City, Calif., was full of all the usual chargemaster profit grabs: $18 each for 88 diabetes-test strips that Amazon sells in boxes of 50 for $27.85; $24 each for 19 niacin pills that are sold in drugstores for about a nickel apiece. There were also four boxes of sterile gauze pads for $77 each. None of that was considered part of what was provided in return for Seton’s facility charge for the intensive-care unit for two days at $13,225 a day, 12 days in the critical unit at $7,315 a day and one day in a standard room (all of which totaled $120,116 over 15 days). There was also $20,886 for CT scans and $24,251 for lab work.
As for why we can have a system where diabetes-test strips are sold for $18/each in one place, while Amazon sells a box of 50 for $27.85, see this great piece by Sarah Kliff on the lack of price controls in the U.S.
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