High Health Care Costs Driving Health Care Reform – It Is Not Just The $1200 Surgical Stapler

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Modern Operating Room

(Best Syndication News) Later this year Blue Cross of California is expected to go forward with their 39 percent rate hikes in California. This has prompted a curiosity of why our medical bills are so high. It is not just Wellpoint and various pharmaceuticals registering incredible profits, hospitals and surgery room equipment manufactures are also raking in earnings.

Recently Dr. Sanjay Gupta examined some of the costs associated with surgery. On Anderson Cooper 360 he explained that renting the operating room could cost $3,000 per hour. An IV bag could cost over $200 while surgical staplers could cost upwards of $1,200. He went through a list of other devices including: chest tubes to treating chest compression - $1,100, sutures for $200, and biopsy needles for $800.


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Manufactures say it took years to develop these devices. They also have to guarantee a certain level of effectiveness.

Besides the cost of the operating room and all of the equipment, there are administrative costs associated with a hospital stay. There is also the cost of people without insurance which is passed along to those with insurance.

The cost of the uninsured is one factor driving health care reform. Even if a person does not have insurance, their cost is passed along to the insured. Hospitals can’t lose money otherwise they will go out of business.

What is charged and what is paid by insurance is not the same. Just because an insurance company charged $3,000 for an operating room does not mean they will pay that much. Hospitals collect about 4 percent of what they bill for, according to Richard Clark with the Health Care Management Association. The high cost is the result of “underpayments” by the government and insurance companies Clark added.

Meanwhile, people without insurance are always hit with the full bill. While insurance companies and the government agencies negotiate much lower rates and prices, people without insurance pay the full bill. This typically results in personal bankruptcy and a failure to pay any of the bill. This cost is passed along to the insured.

By: Marsha Quinn
Health Writer

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