Hospitals will happily tell you the cost of parking; procedures, not so much

Fourteen-year-old Jillian Bernstein got herself published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by comparing the transparency of medical costs at Philadelphia hospitals with the transparency of parking rates at the same hospitals. Out of 20 hospitals, 19 were happy to provide information on the cost to park a car. Only three, however, were willing to tell her how much it would cost an uninsured person to get an electrocardiogram, and those prices were ridiculously variable — $137, $600 and $1,200, depending on the hospital.

Notable Replies

  1. And to think that we are going to be smothering this vibrant, competitive, free market...

  2. Great idea, Jillian Bernstein! Faith in young people, reconfirmed.

  3. NickyG says:

    The answer, when it comes to healthcare? Socialism. There, I said it.

  4. Let's be a honest - even an actual free market healthcare system would, in itself, probably be a step up right now. What we have right now is... what is the word for a system based on deceiving and stealing money through collusion and obfuscation?

    Hell, I'm not even sure if it's really even a /market/, forget 'free'...

  5. Sometimes worse; because they take your money upfront and won't even tell you what coverage you are actually buying...

    That said, though, while insurance companies are total scumweasels and should be burned to the ground, part of their persistence is derived from the fact that you (without having arm-twisting power on par with a large medical insurance company) simply cannot get prices, much less the best ones, for all sorts of medical procedures.

    Insurance, as a risk-pooling thing for catastrophically expensive happenings would still be a thing; but bringing insurers (and their profit margins) into routine medicine, where almost no risk pooling takes place, is supported largely by the fact that it's so difficult to even touch anything more serious than a bottle of cough syrup at the corner pharmacy without being handed a cryptically semi-itemized and shockingly large bill that turns out to bear almost no relation to reality.

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