Why those suffering people lack health care!

TUESDAY, JULY 25, 2017

One reason, via Drum:
As we noted yesterday, Trip Gabriel's report from that free health fair in southwestern Virginia is very much worth reading.

That part of Virginia is low-income coal country. People traveled long distances from other states to access the free health care. Gabriel's accounts of their medical needs is a savage indictment of our nation's failed health care arrangements.

As we mentioned yesterday, the peculiar data shown below lie behind this ugly story. If health care didn't cost so crazily much in this country, we presumably wouldn't have so much trouble seeing that everyone got it.

These numbers lie behind our savage health care dysfunction. They lie at the heart of every health care report you've read or seen this year. Oddly enough, you're virtually never permitted to see them:
Per capita spending, health care, 2015
United States: $9451
Canada: $4608
France: $4407
United Kingdom: $4003
Very few people attending that fair have ever seen those crazy data. Very few people of any description have ever seen a major liberal report and attempt to explain those data—explain where that crazy level of American health care spending comes from.

Why does a year of health care cost so much in this country? Today, Kevin Drum offers one explanation.

Drum has just finished Elisabeth Rosenthal's book, American Sickness. Right at the start of her book, on page 3, Rosenthal asks the key question:

"Where is all that money going?"

In this horrific passage at the start of his post, Drum provides part of the answer. This is one of the reasons why those suffering people at that health fair have been consigned to suffer:
DRUM (7/25/17): I finished reading Elisabeth Rosenthal’s An American Sickness a few days ago, so the depradations of the American health care system are even fresher on my mind than usual right now. Unsurprisingly, one of the things she talks about is the surge in hospitals surreptitiously employing doctors who are out-of-network and therefore not covered by a patient’s insurance. The result is gigantic bills for people who thought—quite reasonably—that if they went to an in-network hospital they had nothing to worry about.

It turns out this scam is especially common in emergency rooms, precisely the place where patients are least likely to be thinking clearly.
Quite correctly, Drum uses the term "scam" to describe this form of medical looting. The other key word is "surreptitious."

As he continues, Drum quotes from a new report on this practice:
CRESWELL, ABELSON AND SANGER-KATZ (7/25/17): Early last year, executives at a small hospital an hour north of Spokane, Wash., started using a company called EmCare to staff and run their emergency room….Although the hospital had negotiated rates for its fees with many major health insurers, the EmCare physicians were not part of those networks and were sending high bills directly to the patients.

...“Fiona Scott Morton, a professor at the Yale School of Management and a co-author of the paper, described the strategy as a “kind of ambushing of patients.” A patient who goes to the emergency room can look for a hospital that takes her insurance, but she almost never gets to choose the doctor who treats her.

...When emergency room doctors work for a company that has not made a deal with an insurer, they are free to bill whatever they want, insurers say. “The more they bill, the more they get paid,” said Shara McClure, an executive with Blue Cross of Texas.
Creswell's 1900-word report appears on the front page of today's New York Times. Like yesterday's report by Gabriel, it will go almost completely undiscussed and unnoticed.

For a fuller picture of the scam, read the rest of Drum's post. As you do, remember this:

Drum's post explores only one of the scams which lie behind the suffering of the people Gabriel met at the fair. That said, you will never hear a word of any of this on your favorite "corporate liberal" TV shows.

Rachel will continue to give us the thrill of the hyperbolized tribal chase. She will fail to tell you a word about the suffering of those who aren't paid $10 million per year to please their corporate owners.

According to Nexis, Rosenthal hasn't appeared, not even once, on MSNBC or CNN. The Buddha was cosseted this same way—until he left the palace.


  1. Well, it's not just that they spend less than half per capita; that, by itself, wouldn't mean much.

    What's important is that they also have noticeably higher life expectancy and healthier (less obese) populations...

  2. Call the hospitals scammers if you want. Just don't accuse them of lying.

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