Crazy World of Health Care Pricing


Why should you pay more to go to The Valley than the knuckle head sitting next to you?

By Molly Mulebriar

According to government sources the population of the United States is 318,000,000. The Blue Cross & Blue Shield Association claims there are 105,000,000 enrolled in Blue Cross plans in this country. United HealthCare claims to cover 47,700,000 Americans. There are 72,400,000 Americans on Medicaid and 55,200,000 on Medicare. That leaves something less than 39,000,000 uninsured Americans.

If these numbers are true, and we believe they are, we can perhaps better understand American health care pricing in general terms. Similar to boarding a Southwest Airline jet from Dallas to the Lower Rio Grande Valley, passenger pricing varies greatly. If you ask your fellow passenger what they paid for their ticket you may become upset. Why should you pay more to go to The Valley than the knuckle head sitting next to you?

The same rings true in health care. Based on the numbers above, 22% of Americans pay less than Medicare reimbursement rates (Medicaid), 17% pay Medicare rates, and 12% pay nothing. That means 49% of Americans have private health insurance.

The 49% of Americans who have health insurance have no idea what they are paying for medical care. But, insiders know and have tried to keep this the best kept secret since the Vikings discovered America.

Hospitals explain their high prices on financial survival. “We lose money on Medicaid and Medicare patients!” they shout. “We have to make it up on the commercial payers just to keep our doors open!”

If this is true, and we have reason to doubt it, why take Medicaid and Medicare patients in the first place? There is no law requiring them to do so. Just like Southwest Airlines, why do they sell tickets to one passenger for $60 while charging another $180 for the same ticket?

Maybe government should step in and provide FlightiCaid for those who can’t afford travel, and FlightiCare for those too old to drive.