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The Lake News Online
  • Lake view: Money in medicine

  • Moving into the 21st century, the average lifespan of Americans continues to escalate. We have hospitals equipped with the finest doctors and medical equipment.
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  • Moving into the 21st century, the average lifespan of Americans continues to escalate. We have hospitals equipped with the finest doctors and medical equipment. New drugs are coming onto the market regularly to aid in the fight against bacteria and viruses. What is the cost of this care and how is it affecting all of us?
    I have been receiving Time Magazine for many years. Although I do not always agree with them politically, I find many of their articles well worth reading. In their March 4, 2013, a feature article appeared called Bitter Pill by Steven Brill. It described the cost of modern medicine in the U.S. and how it is affecting many Americans. I am going to quote some statistics from this article for all of you who do not read Time. Everything contained below in quotes is excerpted from this article.
    “Americans will spend 2.8 trillion dollars on medical care in 2013. This is 750 billion more for health care in the USA than other developed nations. Procedure costs for surgery are far greater in our country than other developed nations. The following table applies for an appendectomy:”
    Argentina        $1,030
    Australia        $4,926
    Canada        $5,606
    Chile            $5,509
    France        $3,164
    Germany        $3,003
    India            $254
    Spain            $2,615
    Switzerland        $5,840
    USA            $13,003”
    I understand that many if not all of these countries have government provided systems. As I read the article, these are the costs to the provider. In America, this cost would be billed to your insurance company or to you if one is not insured.
    “Another table included to show the profits from the four largest NON-PROFIT hospitals in the USA in terms of yearly profits..
    Name                    yearly profit        
    CEO compensation
    University of Pittsburgh Medical
    $769,790,054        
    $5,975,462
    Cleveland Clinic            
    $572,298,875        
    $2.564,214
    Barnes Jewish, St. Louis        
    $489,696,091        
    $2,235,882
    Weill Cornell Med Center    
    $383,477,548        
    $4,356,039
    Profit is defined by excess of revenue over expenses plus the amount listed on tax returns for the depreciation of assets.
    Page 2 of 2 - An appalling 69% of those people filing for medically related bankruptcy were insured at the time of their filing. The medical bills simply overwhelmed the coverage of their policies.    62% of all bankruptcy filings were for illness or medical costs.
    Since 1960, medical costs have increased five times greater than the GNP.”
    Are you upset regarding all the money spent by Defense Contractors in lobbying Congress? According to the article, lobby costs of the medical profession compared to the Defense Contractors are as follows:
    “Medical        $5.36 billion    
    Defense                     $1.3 billion”
    Perhaps this is where some of that profit goes toward.
    The article goes on to describe several horror stories on how individuals have fallen into financial hardship due to medical costs. One was an $87,000 bill for outpatient surgery and another was $19,000 for a fall in the back yard. Those over 65 and covered by Medicare are far better off than those 64 and younger without extensive medical insurance. Medicare controls costs and limits what can be charged by hospitals.
    As I said in the beginning, the above info contained in quotes was excerpted from Time Magazine. I have no way of validating everything contained in the article. Personally, I was completely shocked by this article, especially the profit figures on the non-profit hospitals. To me, it appears like an industry out of control and taking severe advantage of our citizens. Review the statistics on bankruptcies above. This is causing  hardships to families caught up in this situation that is beyond their control.
    I went to my personal advisor, google.com in an attempt to find out what the hospitals do with all this profit. I could not get a definitive answer that satisfied me. There were comments regarding all the “charity work” they provide, but no dollar amount was specified.
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