You want to fix the medical system? You want reform?
I've got a very simple law that we could pass that will go a LONG way toward medical healthcare reform.
Require that, within one business day, the healthcare provider give you a straightforward answer to this question:
"How much is this going to cost?"
Mom is in rehab for her new knee, which she had put in last week. The orthopedic surgeon called it one of the worst --if not the single worst-- knees that he's ever had to replace. He told me that Mom should have come in 10 years ago to get that knee swapped out. Mom's answer (she walked 150 yards in to the pre-op room, unassisted) is simply, "Yeah, but think of how far that replacement knees have advanced, in the last ten years." Good point.
Mom's a super star at rehab, and is actually being released early. This makes her cranky elder son very happy; we've been missing her next door. (Yes, I've been visiting daily, but it's not the same.) But when her family liaison person called me to ask me if I had any questions, I asked her, "What's the cost of this? How much are we saving daily by having her come home early? What is the average daily cost of her care?"
She didn't know, but turned me over to a person at their facility who could "better answer my questions." That lady didn't know, either. "We don't do any billing here," she told me. "That's done from the corporate offices in Pennsylvania."
But she went on to assure me that the bill was to be sent to Mom's insurance companies, who typically covered most of these things, before we'd ever get a bill.
"But somebody, somewhere, knows what this costs," I protested.
"No, we won't really know, until we bill the insurance companies, and see what they pay," she told me.
This is ridiculous.
The attitude that it doesn't matter, because there is insurance, is the reason why the costs are spiraling.
On the first of this month, I changed over from my old PPO to a new Health Savings Account*. Thus, when it's medically-oriented, I want to know what EVERYTHING costs.
I know what I make per hour. I know what the overhead is for my job. I could, after checking a few figures, answer the question "How much does it cost to run the police department in Matt G's little town for a single day?"
Why is this so hard?
*I've got a $3000 deductible to fill each year, before my account turns into a classic PPO. My job kicks in $180 a month to a savings account that I pay out of.