11/30/2005

Hospital or 5 star hotel?

My aunt was recently admitted to the hospital after going to the emergency room for a stomach problem. After 10 days in the hospital and some special attention by several doctors she arrived home to await the bills. The bills totaled almost $50,000! I couldn’t believe it! Room charges in some hospitals have skyrocketed and even non-prescription medication seems to cost more when you knocking on death’s door. Will this lead to alternative hospitals and care? A person making average wages can not possibly afford to stay in the hospital one week. For those 10 days my aunt will have to work more than a year! Insurance of course helps to lighten the blow, but if costs continue to increase then eventually even insurance companies will not be able to foot the bill for everything.

3 comments:

Morgan said...

I can't beleive how expensive it is to get medical care either! That is truly mad! I've said it before, and I'll say it again, what this country needs is a universal healthcare system. So many opponents of such a system argue that converting to universal healthcare will take away our "freedoms", and will offer lower quality care, because of a lack of a market, but I say, we have a market, and look at how inefficient it is! We already know how shoddy, and astronomically expensive healthcare is under a "free market" system, so why are people threatened at the thought of letting the government create a social program of healthcare, that could provide benefits to everyone, not just the wealthy?

Dr. Tufte said...

-1 on Morgan's comment for spelling errors.

There are three reasons for this sort of problem, and everyone knows exactly what they are: 1) a third party payer system, 2) an overactive legal culture, and 3) a government bureaucracy that demands to pay less than costs (requiring hospitals to make up the difference on other customers).

The problem with commonly proposed methods of dealing with the problem of high healthcare costs is that numbers 1 and 3 are already the hallmarks of a universal healthcare system. We already have healthcare that is universal for senior citizens, and it is a disaster.

Having said that, most people also are missing two big picture items. First, we pay for healthcare because it works - and the evidence is all around us. Second, healtcare is a luxury good (with an income elasticity over one), which means that as we get richer we choose to buy more of it. Can anyone explain to me how those two can be a problem?

FWIW: I have my own story here - $12,000 for about 20 hours of care.

Karachi Hotel said...

This is great content.In my point of view all the standardized hospitals and the five star hotels are much expensive.That s why they give better services to his customers.