Your massive surprise hospital bills are making bank for private equity

Private equity firms like Blackstone and KKR have acquired massive health companies like Teamhealth and Emcare, which bill out doctors to the hospitals they work for, taking those doctors out of the hospitals' insurance agreements and massively hiking their fees -- that's why when you go to a hospital, even one that's covered by your insurer, you still end up with massive surprise bills for your care. Read the rest

Shahid Buttar: the civil rights cyberlawyer and community organizer who's challenging Pelosi from the left #ShahidVsPelosi

I endorsed Shahid Buttar's primary challenge to Nancy Pelosi in 2018, and I'm proud to do so again for the 2020 primary, especially as Pelosi has allowed herself to be played by Trump on American concentration camps and mass ethnic-cleansing raids. Read the rest

Stephen Fry explains the vast superiority of UK healthcare to America's omnishambles, which Brexiteers hope to import

After Brexit, Tory leaders are hoping to strike a bilateral trade agreement with the USA that will begin the dismantling of the NHS, starting with a ban on price-controls for pharma and open doors for America's wasteful, cruel, useless health-care insurance mega-corporations. In this video, national treasure Stephen Fry explains how the UK and US systems compare, and how American media lies about the state of the NHS to credulous, mouth-breathing Fox News zombies. If you want to keep the NHS out of any UK-US trade deal, sign the petition here. Learn more about Brexit here. Read the rest

After Propublica expose, the "nonprofit," "Christian" Memphis University Hospital suspends practice of suing the shit out of poor people

Memphis University Hospital is a tax-exempt nonprofit whose CEO, Dr. Michael Ugwueke, took home $1.6m last year; the hospital itself makes an operating surplus of $80m/year -- and it also sues the shit out of its patients, running its own in-house collection agency and filing more garnishment claims than any other hospital in the state. Read the rest

The widening health gap between America's rich and poor is the result of worse health for the poor, not better health for the rich

Apologists for wealth inequality often argue that inequality is a poor measure of whether a society is just or not: in the gospel of the right, society naturally forms hierarchies with the "best people" at the top (depending on what kind of right winger you are, that's either rich people or male people or white people or straight people, or some combination thereof), and they proceed to bring prosperity to all of us by ordering us around and telling us what to do, so that their wisdom can be played out for the world (see also: "job creators"). Read the rest

How Memphis's Methodist University Hospital, a "nonprofit," sued the shit out of its Black, poor patients while raking in millions and paying execs more than a million each

Methodist University Hospital in Memphis is a nonprofit: it pays virtually no local, state or federal tax; but unlike other Methodist hospitals, Methodist University Hospital is relentless in pursuing medical debts from indigent patients. The hospital owns its own collection agency, and is one of the leading litigants in Tennessee's debt courts. Read the rest

Insulin: why the price of a 100-year-old drug has tripled in a decade

Insulin prices have skyrocketed to the point where many people with diabetes live in insulin poverty, with one in four rationing their insulin and an even larger proportion trading off other life necessities (food, rent, clothing) to afford their insulin supply. Read the rest

The "ghost networks" of mental health professionals that US health insurers rely on to deny care to their patients

If you've decided to investigate treatment options for your mental health, your health insurer will cheerfully refer you to a list of hundreds of providers -- but as STAT's Jack Turban discovered, this "network" of providers is actually a "ghost network," filled with wrong numbers that ring in McDonald's restaurants and jewelers. If you happen to reach an actual mental health professional, they'll probably tell you they're not accepting new patients. Read the rest

Reverse mortgages: subprime's "stealth aftershock" that is costing elderly African-Americans their family homes

Reverse mortgages -- complex home loans -- are aggressively marketed to elderly people, especially in African-American neighborhoods, using deceptive tactics that offer false promised to "eliminate monthly payments permanently" with "a risk-free way of being able to access home equity." Read the rest

All weekend, California Democrats booed neoliberal would-be presidents who talked down the Green New Deal and Medicare for All

John Delaney (a finance friendly millionaire) wants to be the Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, and he thinks he knows how to win: "Medicare for all may sound good but it's actually not good policy nor is it good politics." It's an idea so unpopular with California Democrats that it attracted a full minute of heartfelt boos when he assayed it last weekend. Read the rest

Judge recuses himself from health insurance cancer-denial case because he considers the company "immoral" and "barbaric"

US District Judge Robert N Scola recused himself from a class action suit against Unitedhealthcare that alleges that Unitedhealthcare denied them promising proton beam cancer treatments by falsely claiming that they were "experimental." Read the rest

Americans with diabetes are forming caravans to buy Canadian insulin at 90% off

The price-gouger-driven skyrocketing prices for insulin have endangered the lives of Americans with diabetes, who are rationing their supplies and trying not to die. Read the rest

Assessing Occupy's legacy

In 2011, activists began an occupation of Zucotti Park near Wall Street, starting a movement that spread around the world and changed the discourse around wealth, inequality, corruption and justice. Read the rest

Serpent profiteers: how a summer camp snakebite turned into a $142,938 medical bill

Last July, a nine year old child named Oakley Yoder got bitten on the toe by a venomous snake while at summer camp in Jackson Falls, Illinois: the initial bill for her treatment came out to $142,938. Read the rest

Health industry lobbyists are posing as "ordinary citizens who don't want Medicare for All"

Here are some "ordinary citizens" who have recently been featured in the press as people who are completely OK with the state of American healthcare and totally opposed to Medicare for All or any other project to reform America's worst-in-the-world health care system: "Mustafa Tameez, businessman, Texas" (Tameez is managing director at Texas-based Outreach Strategists, a public affairs and lobbying firm that reps Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, University of Texas Physicians, and St. Luke’s Hospital). Read the rest

Self-insurer Walmart flies its sick employees to out-of-state specialists to avoid local price-gougers

Walmart self-insures its workforce, rather than relying on an outside insurer like Cigna or Blue Cross; this means that it gets to make judgment calls that other firms cannot, and that has led the retail giant to a pretty weird place: for certain procedures that it believes to be overused by local hospitals, it flies its employees (even front-line, low-waged employees) to see the nation's top specialists in out-of-state facilities where they receive "concierge, white-glove care that was reserved at other companies only for highly paid executives." Read the rest

A detailed analysis of American ER bills reveals rampant, impossible-to-avoid price-gouging

For more than a year, Vox's Sarah Kliff has been investigating hospital price-gouging in America, collecting hospital bills from her readers and comparing them, chasing up anomalies and pulling on threads, producing a stream of outstanding reports on her findings. Read the rest

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