AP NEWS

How much does health care cost you?

May 6, 2019

Let us take three patients. One is on Medicare. One is on Medicaid. One has health insurance through their job.

All three go to different doctors. Their doctors say, “You have a serious problem. Your farkle needs to be removed — and soon.”

So, all three contact farkle specialists and check into hospitals. All three undergo successful farkle operations and recover.

On a percentage, the hospital that treated the private pay patient gets $100 for the farkle cure. The hospital that treated the Medicare-pay patient gets $80 for the same procedure. The hospital that treated the Medicaid-pay patient gets $60. There’s a reason why some doctors will not take Medicaid.

It’s also the same reason why some medical providers are wary of the future. If the future means cutting out private pay, it could mean less money for medical facilities of all kinds. If the model is Medicaid, it could mean markedly less.

Thus, the so-called cost savings could result in the closing of smaller and rural-based facilities. It might mean fewer jobs in health care, jobs with lower pay or both.

There is always much discussion about the cost of health care. It needs to be said sometimes the costs go up because we need them to go up. New equipment, everything from robotic surgery to HIV drugs, increases costs in a good way because when you are ill, you want to be cured. Things that once were rare — transplants and artificial joints — now are common.

Will the government have the same incentive to invest in a cure as a pharmaceutical firm does?

There are flaws and gaps in what medicine does today. The best care in the world does not help if you don’t go to the doctor because you feel you can’t afford it. Yet what it does today seems close to a miracle too. If change is needed, let us proceed with caution and wisdom.