Hardware: the scanner, computer, and all the attendant equipment -- and don’t forget the ever-evolving software.
Overhead: the CT lab’s share of every kind of hospital expense from climate control to fire insurance.
Admittedly, my breakdown is ludicrously ignorant and simplistic because I can only guess at the individual expense items and I haven’t a clue about how much cash goes to each. Even so, I’m willing to bet my aging bippy that a CT scan does not truly incur $7,000 in out-of-pocket costs. However, the procedure is charged that way, and the difference between charges and costs is concealed someplace else.
Without knowing what the costs are and where they’re going, we have no way to judge whether any are excessive – or even justified. And without knowing how much is hidden in the charges and where it is hiding, we can’t tell the difference between “prudent accumulation of capital reserves” and grand larceny. In short, we can’t realistically assess the health care debacle because we cannot follow the money.
Or can we?
In areas close to my own field of knowledge I routinely dig up amazing stuff on the internet. How? By knowing that it should exist, how it just might be labeled, and where, approximately, to start excavating. I bet that many OpEd kindred spirits can do the same things with health care cost data.
So here’s the deal: please comment on this piece, but don’t weigh in with the pros and cons of this or that vs. some other. Instead, send URLs. Let’s find the sources of health care data and share them here and on whatever other forums you attend. Let’s give one another the tools to itemize different costs in the health care mess. Let’s empower ourselves to follow the money. Only then can we debate and decide what to do.
Speaking of Health Care Elephants…
President Obama wrapped up his major address to the AMA and the nation at large with these words:
“The other day, my friend, Congressman Earl Blumenauer, handed me a magazine with a special issue titled, "The Crisis in American Medicine." One article notes "soaring charges." Another warns about the "volume of utilization of services." And another asks if we can find a "better way [than fee-for-service] for paying for medical care." It speaks to many of the challenges we face today. The thing is, this special issue was published by Harper's Magazine in October of 1960.”
It was my wife, Sue Stinson, Portland OR retiree by day, who handed that magazine to Congressman Blumenauer, who handed it to Rahm Emanuel, who handed it to the president, who used it in his speech and then stashed it in his presidential archives.
Who says grass roots individuals can’t make a difference?