Emergency rooms at for-profit hospitals are notorious price-gougers, where an ice-pack and a bandage can cost $5,000, and where no one will tell you how much your care is costing until months after the fact.
In a funny, serious, link-studded satirical essay on McSweeney's (Welcome to Our Modern Hospital Where If You Want to Know a Price You Can Go Fuck Yourself), Alex Baia makes explicit the submerged subtext of these sleazy, crooked tactics: "Well, you can't do much about that now. Except of course to go fuck yourself. Yes, ma'am, as a matter of fact, we do have a special room where you can go fuck yourself. Yes, it does cost money to use the room, and no I cannot tell you how much. Want a hint? It's between $1 and $35,000 per minute. Will you be reserving the go fuck yourself room?"
Honestly, there's no telling what you'll pay today. Maybe $700. Maybe $70,000. It's a fun surprise! Maybe you'll go to the ER for five minutes, get no treatment, then we'll charge you $5,000 for an ice pack and a bandage. Then your insurance company will be like, "This is nuts. We're not paying this." Who knows how hard you'll get screwed? You will, in three months.
Fun story: This one time we charged two parents $18,000 for some baby formula. LOL! We pull that shit all the time. Don't like it? Don't bring a baby, asshole.
Oh, I get it: you're used to knowing a clear price for products and services. The difference is that medicine is complicated and scary — unlike, say, flying hundreds of people in a steel tube across an ocean, or selling them a six-ounce hand-held computer that plays movies and talks to satellites. Anyway, no need to think this through rationally while you're vulnerable, right? Your head is really gushing, ma'am.
Welcome to Our Modern Hospital Where If You Want to Know a Price You Can Go Fuck Yourself [Alex Baia/McSweeney's]
(via Naked Capitalism)
(Image: Komunews, CC-BY)