We begin at the source of skyrocketing health care costs - the pharmaceutical companies, and the medical equipment manufacturers -
- Pharmaceuticals (prescription drugs) in the US cost anywhere between 3 and 10 times what the same drugs are being sold for in both the northern and southern parts of North America (for those of you who failed geography, that's Canada and Mexico). And, in 3rd World, or "developing" nations, the disparity becomes even greater! Why is it that the USA gets to pay the premium price for necessary medical supplies when they are created within our own borders? Because the PharmCo's think we can afford the outrageous prices, and that we should pay for all their R&D. Granted, Research and Development of medicines is an expensive proposition, but why do Americans have to bear those costs alone? And why do the PharmCo's seem to believe they should recoup those expenses in the first 6 months of sales? Those costs are passed on at your neighborhood pharmacy as well as at your local hospital. Why does the same Band Aid, or USP formula aspirin that sells for $4.00 per hundred at Rite Aid or Wal-Mart, cost you $5.00 per pill on your hospital bill? Because those of us who actually pay our medical bills (with or without medical insurance), pay our medical bills... and we foot the costs for those who do not!
- Medical equipment costs are outrageously expensive, due to a captive audience (where else ya gonna go?) and no hospital is considered a hospital these days if they don't have a CT Scanner or MRI Scanner. R&D costs to develop safe and effective medical equipment are at least equal to those of the pharmaceutical industry. Where is it written that being a manufacturer of anything is cheap? They are in these businesses because they can make a fortune producing items that are essential to keeping people alive! A "decent' Magnetic Resonance Instrument costs your hospital between $1,000,000 and $3,000,000, and a top-of-the-line MRI is more than that! Why are these machines that expensive? The manufacturers, like all corporations, have stockholders who expect a return on their investment in a (un)reasonable period of time and, to meet those expectations, R&D costs (investment $$) must be recouped in the shortest amount of time possible.
- Here's a question that boggles the most brilliant minds - even mine... (almost)! Why is a one week stay in the hospital after a heart attack, billed at $38,000, but settled for at $8,000 with your insurance company? Because they know that the insurance company can and will pay that $8,000, and if they had to depend on an uninsured, minimum-wage, working-class person to pay that $38K bill, it would take decades to get their money. It's the practical application of the "bird in the hand" principal. "Eighteen percent of something is better than one hundred percent of nothing."
"So, Mister Smartypants, what can be done about it?" you ask..
- IF the government must get involved let it be in the structuring of the health care system, not the administration thereof. The responsibility should rest with Congress to initiate legislation prohibiting profiteering (not to be confused with reasonable profit) in any health-related industry at any time. Further, prohibit profiteering in any critical industry at any time.