On The Money
Economics for the 99%
What’s Weird About Health Care in America
I don’t read the New York Times because New Yorkers have all lost their minds. If “the Gray Lady” ever published an above the fold headline proclaiming “We’re Live in a Cockroach Infested, Piss Drenched, Rat Maze and We Fuck the World Over by Remote Control, for What? Spiderman?!?” I might believe New Yorkers had finally come to their senses, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.
I don’t watch Fox News, or Comedy Central. I’ve seen Bill O’Reilly and Steve Colbert. One’s a little scarier and ones a little funnier, but it’s all the same idiocy, and that gets depressing, so I don’t bother with them. I don’t look at The Economist, The Wall St. Journal or Barron’s, because I figure that as long as they’ve got something to write about, we’re all doomed.
However, I do think it important to stay informed about the world around me, so I always make a point of reading Chuck Sheppard’s News of the Weird, and so should you. If you had read News of the Weird this month, you would have read the following story, which tells you everything you need to know about health-care costs in America. The following paragraph appeared in News of the Weird this month, under the heading:
Leading Economic Indicators
Scorpion anti-venom, made in Mexico, sells in Mexico, for about $100 a dose, but for a while over the past year, the going rate in the emergency room of the Chandler (Arizona) Regional Medical Center was $39,652 a dose, charged to Marci Edmonds, who was stung while opening a box of air-conditioner filters. She received two doses by IV and was released after three hours, to later find a co-pay bill of $25,537 awaiting her (with her Humana plan picking up $57,509), according to the Arizona Republic newspaper. The Republic found that Arizona hospitals routinely retail scorpion anti-venom for between $7,900 and $12,467 per dose – except for Chandler. Following the newspapers report, Chandler decided to re-price the anti-venom at $8,000 a dose, thus eating a $31,652 “loss.”
This was no typo or computer error. That was the real price Chandler had set for a dose of scorpion anti-venom in their ER. You’ll notice that Humana didn’t bat an eyelash about paying almost $60,000 for a three-hour hospital stay. They were quite happy to simply pass those costs on to you, in the form of higher premiums. It was only after The Arizona Republic reported the story, that the Chandler Regional Medical Center reduced its price for a dose of scorpion anti-venom to the lower end of the range of astronomically high prices charged by other Arizona hospitals.
Just for reference, a pound of marijuana also sells for about $100 in Mexico, but only retails for about $1,000 in Arizona. That’s because, compared to hospitals and insurance companies, Mexican drug cartels are run by good honest businessmen.
For the same price as her three hour IV drip in the ER, Marci could have spent the whole night in a luxury suite in a Las Vegas resort hotel, and enjoyed the services of sixteen Elliot Spitzer class, $5,000 a trick prostitutes, with enough money left over to cover the mini-bar bill and cab fare home.
Instead, she had the misfortune of being stung by a scorpion in a rural part of Arizona, where they have a lot of scorpions, but only one hospital, and she lives in a country where the whole health care system is set up to fuck you the hardest when you are the most vulnerable.
Scorpions only sting in self-defense, but hospital administrators and insurance executives intend to eat you for dinner. There’s a view of Health Care in America that’s On The Money