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The Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us

The "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us" by Stephen Brill, in the February 20, 2013 issue of Time Magazine provides more questions than answers in an expose of the healthcare industry.

In a recent expose of the healthcare industry, Mr. Brill offers much information and several thought provoking questions for consideration by the general public, politicians, the healthcare delivery industry, and the health insurance industry. Some of them are:

  • Why are prices are so high for healthcare products and services?
  • Is the hospital "chargemaster" obsolete, or is it a convenient way to justify charging high prices to all consumers?
  • Does the "payer" status (direct consumer, private insurer, Medicare, etc.) determine how much providers charge for their products and services?
  • Do insurance company negotiations with hospitals and doctors provide enough help in holding down the costs of healthcare products and services?
  • Is the best negotiator of all products and services Medicare, which is the largest healthcare insurer in the country?
  • Can private insurers force hospitals to accept something much closer to reasonable and customary cost pricing like Medicare does?
  • Is Medicare's negotiating power being undermined in key areas, such as prescription drugs and medical devices, by interest group lobbying of Congress?
  • Should Medicare (and/or Medicare supported private insurance) cover the vast majority of persons in the United States?
  • Will the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare, including insurance marketplaces and exchanges, create an environment of cost transparency which will drive innovation and cost effectiveness?
  • Should additional legislation, like the Medicare laws, be enacted to enforce lower healthcare product and service prices?

During this tumultuous period, Mr. Brill's article offers important information for the national debate about healthcare delivery and financing. For a full reading of the online article with a free Time subscription, please click here.

For a full reading of a manuscript copy, please click here.

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