Streams

The High Cost of Emergency Room Care

Monday, December 23, 2013

medical, hospital, emergency room, ambulance (Fred Mogul/WNYC)

New York Times reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal discusses the latest in her series “Paying til It Hurts,” about the high cost of health care in the United States compared to other developed countries. She’ll talk about the cost of emergency room care and looks at how ambulances, once free, now operate as businesses and contribute to America’s medical bills. Her latest stories in the series are “Think the E.R. Is Expensive? Look at How Much It Costs to Get There” and “As Hospital Prices Soar, a Stitch Tops $500.”

Guests:

Elisabeth Rosenthal

Comments [19]

tort reform is a fiction

"Tort reform" is the junk science. Though any system in the world can be abused by a few people, frivolous lawsuits are against the law and dismissed by judges. They have nothing to do with rising health care or insurance costs, and are just an excuse by insurance companies, hospitals and doctors to blame others for their rising costs and increasing, bloated profits. Tort law is a way for patients and others to hold accountable and get compensated from those who harm them. Doctors who do good work are not sued, and those who make mistakes should still be accountable to their innocent patients whose lives, health and finances are harmed. Just wait until you or a loved one has the wrong part of your body operated on, or is misdiagnosed and mistreated, and leaves the hospital with more health problems than you went in with...and see if you then want your ability to sue your doctor for compensation taken away by "tort reform."

Dec. 23 2013 01:25 PM
Torta reform

[[Jack from Caldwell, NJ

Why is it that, in all the discussions about "rising health care costs" that NOBODY ever discusses tort reform? Frivolous lawsuits based on junk science are one of the major contributors to ever-increasing charges by doctors and hospitals. And yet, I have not heard one "investigative reporter" ever say a word about it...
Dec. 23 2013 12:50 PM]]

Why is it that before people make sweeping accusations, they never bother to use google to see if the accusations are true?

There's been plenty of talk about tort reform...much of it saying that it has not reduced health care costs. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/post/meme-busting-tort-reform--cost-control/2011/06/02/AGpb0DHH_blog.html

Dec. 23 2013 01:02 PM
Jack from Caldwell, NJ

Why is it that, in all the discussions about "rising health care costs" that NOBODY ever discusses tort reform? Frivolous lawsuits based on junk science are one of the major contributors to ever-increasing charges by doctors and hospitals. And yet, I have not heard one "investigative reporter" ever say a word about it...

Dec. 23 2013 12:50 PM
John A

People are asking what to do.... You can ask for a detailed bill. You should hold back any emotional reaction to rates they use. You should be able to meet with someone at the billing office. I have challenged line items for items not received and the only response I would get at first was 'we can set up a payment plan if you like' - in other words no admission that the charges are (legal) fabrication. After four visits I believe I got my bill down about 50% and went from there.

Dec. 23 2013 12:49 PM

@John A - Tiny yes but a vital part of every household. Home economics can create as much investible surplus as earning an extra $5K/yr.

The public did not reject either the single payer or the public option! The administration gave it up to get GOP votes. Depending on what statistician you listen to, 20-33% of the folks who don't like ObamaCare don't like it *because* it doesn't have a public option (Medicare for All!)

We've created a monster that needs to be slain but make no mistake that there will be casualties on both sides.

Dec. 23 2013 12:40 PM
Paul from Manhattan

Can she clarify the issue of non-network doctors providing services in a Hospital setting. My understanding is that when a patient is admitted to a network hospital, all the doctors who perform services within the Hospital setting MUST accept the in-network compensation that the Hospital has agreed to.

Dec. 23 2013 12:39 PM
A listener

How do we get to this national setting of rates?

Why is there so much fraud in Medicaid? Why go to a larger government system if the system we already have is so poorly policed? Who - besides the doctors - is getting rich off Medicaid fraud?

Dec. 23 2013 12:39 PM
nyc resident

isn't there a risk also with rate limits for a procedure, or moreso with a yearly set amount to include any medical care, that doctors and hospitals will refuse certain care because they won't get paid extra for it?

Dec. 23 2013 12:38 PM
Jackie from New Brunswick NJ

Is there any recourse when you get separate bills from a hospital - charges that are crazy high and unfair? I mean action an individual can take.....

Dec. 23 2013 12:38 PM
sophia

I'm aware that NPR and others have done work like this before, they don't get the kind of mainstream publicity that NYTimes series do.

They don't get repeat appearances on Morning Joe and the like.

Dec. 23 2013 12:37 PM
Rick Evans from 10473

@sophia -- "While I appreciate the thoroughness of this series, I have to wonder why it wasn't done while healthcare reform was being debated?"

Sigh ... This type of program has been done multiple on various public radio program while ObamaCare and its baby daddy RomneyCare of Massachusetts were being legislated. There have also been newspaper series and articles.

I even recall one story featuring a doctor who was highly knowledgeable about medical coding talking about he planned to game the system and earn consulting fees gaming the system.

BTW: It's nice to see Elisabeth Rosenthal pop the much repeated trope of the E.R. as loss leader spewed by Jonathan Gruber and oft parroted Julie Rovner.

Dec. 23 2013 12:34 PM
sophia

Excuse me, "We" did not reject single-payer.

Bought and paid for politicians would not even allow a discussion of single-payer.

Those who tried to testify before the committee put together by Well-Point stooge/Max Baucus aide Liz Fowler were dragged out in handcuffs.

Dec. 23 2013 12:32 PM
graham caldwell

Rolling Jubilee, an outgrowth of Occupy Wall Street, is raising money and buying medical debt for pennies on the dollar and then abolishing the debt. Individuals standing up to the cycle of debt and bankruptcy.

Dec. 23 2013 12:31 PM
John A

Llistening till it hurts it seems...
There should be courses in school in managing these things. Home-ec only regards tiny expenses in comparison.

Dec. 23 2013 12:27 PM
A listener

Does the cost of a medical education push doctors into more lucrative areas of specialty?

Are doctors evaluated within a hospital by how much revenue they generate?

Dec. 23 2013 12:27 PM
Ron from Forest Hills, NY

I have not heard any professionals discussing the access of healthcare across state lines. For example, if you live in NY State and signed up for a NY State plan BUT then require medical specialist services at Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, UCLA, or other institutions outside the state you signed up in, what will happen? Will the procedure just be covered out of network, or not at all? Please let us know.

Dec. 23 2013 12:17 PM
John A

I admire Elisabeth's sanity in this maddening situation. I've tried to ask before service what these things will cost. Very hard to impossible. I feel lucky my three stitches only cost $1500, $100 per minute of service.

Dec. 23 2013 12:16 PM
sophia

While I appreciate the thoroughness of this series, I have to wonder why it wasn't done while healthcare reform was being debated?

Single-payer backers have been well aware of most of these outrages for decades, but the general public could have used the information, and the know-nothing Washington press-corps might have asked better questions with a more timely series.

Dec. 23 2013 12:14 PM
Art525 from Park Slope

Years ago I cut a slice of skin off the tip of my finger. It was too broad for stitches. They put my finger over a bowl and poured disinfectant any over it. They wrapped it in gauze and I was done. The bill? $1000.00. I didn't pay it.

Dec. 23 2013 12:13 PM

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