Wednesday, December 25, 2019

The Industrial Medical Complex

We have all heard about the Industrial Military Complex where wars are fought simply to make some people rich. I came to the conclusion that there is also the Industrial Medical Complex. I wrote in The Costs Of Government Controlled Health Care about a doctor who bought an MRI machine so he could do scans far cheaper than medical centers. He was quickly shut down by state regulators.

I just read an article where a woman went to her family doctor for a sore throat. She was going on a trip and wanted to make sure she didn't have Strep Throat. A few swabs later she was on her way home with no antibiotics. A few days later, her throat was better and she was away on her trip. On her return home, she had a medical bill in the mail for $28,395.50. Her insurance company was going to pay $25,865.24.

The reason for this is, the doctor sent the swab to an out of network laboratory. If he had sent the samples to an in-network lab, the cost would have been only $653. Why he sent the sample to an out of network lab isn't important. The big question is, if one lab can do the test for $653, why can't all labs? We're told an in-network lab is cheaper because they negotiate prices with the insurance company. I'll bet that in-network lab is still turning a profit.

The biggest mistake this woman made that could cost her $2500, is she didn't bother to ask the price, Like most people, she is dependent on the insurance company and trusts everyone to do the right thing. The medical industry knows people don't care about the costs, so they charge whatever they can get away with. I should also note that one reason for this is they have a lot of patients that never pay their bills. They try and compensate this by overcharging people who do pay.

I have often told the story of friends who get a new television, and I ask what it cost. They shrug and say they have no idea. Their faces light up and excitedly talk about how low the monthly payment is. These people are excited they're paying twice the price for the same TV purchased at a big box store. Medical purchases are exactly the same, people only care about the co payment. They don't think about costs until the bill arrives and they learn they will have to pay a certain amount of of the bill.

If the medical industry acted on a free market, you would get a booklet listing all the prices and if there is a deviation, the doctor would tell you it could cost more in your case. Any process that talks about in and out of network costs, you can be sure you're in a mess. If your tests or treatments can't be done in network, you can end up owing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Let's look at the insurance aspect. Imagine if you could only buy car insurance one week a year—you would have to walk until that day arrived. Imagine if you wreck your car and the other person's insurance will pay only if you go to Uncle Joe's garage in some guy's backyard. Imagine if your garage was negotiating with the insurance company on how much you will be charged, and you get no say.

Would you ever take your car to a garage without asking them how much it would cost to repair? Imagine if the government regulated garages and they had to run specific tests before they could begin repair—the cost of auto repair would skyrocket. The free market would drastically lower medical costs, but the only thing anyone talks about is the cost of insurance. Insurance isn't healthcare.

The reason you can buy health insurance only a few weeks a year, is profit. They know that if you could walk in at any time and buy health insurance, you would wait until you're sick to get insurance. This would be the same as buying auto insurance after you wrecked your car. My former company let employees buy insurance within a set time after being hired. Once you got the insurance, there were limitations, such as preexisting-conditions. All the insurance industry needs to do is set waiting times before the policy becomes active, so you can buy insurance at any time of the year. Even if you buy through the Affordable Care Act, you can still only by once a year. This is only to maximize profits. Democrats passed the ACA and that tells you they weren't truly thinking about the people. Insurance companies wrote much of the Affordable Care Act.

Democrats and Republicans only care about increasing government controls. I'll bet, everyone has had similar problems as the woman with the sore throat. This woman was also a part of the problem. Why did she go to the doctor because she had a cold and a sore throat? 99.9% of the time those things heal with no assistance. People have been brainwashed into running to the doctor for every ache and pain. As I wrote about in, America's Addiction To Drugs, most people think they need a pill before their body will heal, or to relieve minor pain.

Democrats want government owned insurance such as Medicare. That means there would be no competition. That means only one insurance entity negotiating prices. All a medical company has to do is buy off a few politicians and they can charge whatever they please. Imagine a system where medical center 'A' can charge more than medical center 'B'. Some of the price variations could be because it cost more to operate in some areas, but be sure, some of it will be due to political factors.

How many times have you heard about $100,000 toilets for military equipment? I recently learned about two sisters who owned a hardware supply company. They got a military contract and one day they accidentally charge the Pentagon twice for the same order. They expected a call, but it never came. The sisters had made an easy $5,000. A few months later, they intentionally overcharge the Pentagon, there was never a complaint. Over the years, they did this many times, but occasionally someone at the government would catch the overcharge and the sisters would refund the money. Eventually, they were charging as much as $500,000 for two washers. It took this extreme before they were eventually caught, arrested, and sent to prison.

We would find the same thing happening with the health industry, but if you knew the right people, there would never be any consequences. Everything the government touches becomes a disaster, just look at the industrial military complex. When NASA was first started, I said that was the only government agency that worked, but it has become a disaster.

Many of the problems democrats complain about are true—People do go bankrupt because they can't pay medical costs. There may be no true fix to solve such problems other than organizations that do provide free healthcare. The one thing we can do, is work to lower costs. When I say lower costs, I don't mean insurance, I mean actual medical costs.

People like AOC will blame high costs on corporate greed. Walmart is one of the most profitable companies in the country and their prices are also the lowest. Maybe we need Walmart to to enter the hospital business. If the government would give them free rein, I bet medical costs would drastically drop. Sure, it might not be the same standard we see today, but it would be affordable. There could still be the expensive hospitals that can provide top care, but most people don't need that.

Except for serious illnesses, all people need is something cheap, but effective. Look at how drug prices vary between generic drugs and brand names. Sometimes people need the brand name drugs, but not usually. We must find ways to lower costs of actual medicare and stop concentrating on insurance. We must end insurance control of prices. A treatment should cost the same no matter who is writing the check.

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