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Expensive Medical Bills and Health Care

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The stark reality of paying expensive medial bills for health care in the U.S.A…

When Sean Recchi, a 42-year-old from Lancaster, Ohio, was told last March that he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his wife Stephanie knew she had to get him to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Stephanie’s father had received treatment there 10 years earlier, and she and her family credited the doctors and nurses at MD Anderson with extending his life by at least eight years.

But Recchi was in for long expensive ride, all whilst his health was on the line.

Unfortunately they had only been able to afford a $469 a month medial plan, which allowed them up to $2,000 per day off any hospital costs. However upon arrival at the hospital they were told that it wouldn’t accept discount from health care packages such as theirs.

Instead they were made to pay a bill of $48,000 in advance to cover the treatment required. But the bills didn’t stop there, around a week later, Recchi’s condition worsened and another visit to the hospital resulted in another $35,000 bill for treatment the doctors had decided was urgent.

Whilst waiting for the treatment Recchi began experiencing cold sweats, chills and pains, and was once again rushed back to the hospital. However since the staff could not confirm if the more recent $35,000 check had cleared, they left him sitting in the reception area for over 90 minutes. He was then only allowed to see the doctor after advancing another $7500 from his credit card.

The total cost of Recchi’s chemotherapy was $83,900 – a price that may seem fair to save a life, but upon closer inspection was inflated with overpriced drugs and treatment.

The receipt showed the hospital had charged $1.50 for each Acetaminophe tablet. But the pills he received were simply generic version of the drug, which can be bought from Amazon by the 100 for the same price.

expensive medial bills health care 550x412 Expensive Medical Bills and Health Care

Expensive Medical bills and Health

Other midpriced items were marked up in a similar fashion. A routine chest X-ray for which Medicare pay just $20.44, was priced at $283.00. Each blood test was market $36.00, accompanied by charges of $23 to $78 for each up to a dozen or more lab analyses performed on the blood sample.

Altogether, the blood samples and lab analysis alone cost him $15,000. Had Recchi been a few years older and eligible for Medicare, he would have paid just a few hundred dollars for all those tests.

Recchi was also charged $13,702 for an injection of 660 mg cancer drug called Rituxan, which costs the hospitals just $4,000 to buy.

When questioned about the highly inflated prices of treatment, MD Anderson said:

“The issues related to health care finance are complex for patients, health care providers, payers and government entities alike … MD Anderson’s clinical billing and collection practices are similar to those of other major hospitals and academic medical centers.”

Although it is officially a nonprofit unit of the University of Texas, MD Anderson has revenue that exceeds the cost of the world-class care it provides by so much that its operating profit for the fiscal year 2010 was $531 million.

Last year the president of MD Anderson Ronald DePinho’s earned over $1,845,000, and that’s not including outside earnings derived from a waiver he received from the university that, allows him to maintain unspecified “financial ties with his three principal pharmaceutical companies.”

And he’s not the only one benefiting from such a business. Of Houston’s top 10 employers, five are hospitals, including MD Anderson which has 19,000 employees, the other three are energy companies such as ExxonMobil.

With medicine clearly becoming such a huge money generating business, many people are now being to ask where all that money is going, and why it’s not being used for better, more affordable treatment for the people who really need it?



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