Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - Home News Tribune Online 05/16/07
The sad facts are out. The uninsured in New Jersey are billed four to 10 times more for a hospital stay than it costs for their care. The reason? They are making up the difference for the underpayment of medical costs by Medicare (which pays 85 percent of the actual cost of care), Medicaid (which pays 73 percent of the actual cost} and health-insurance companies that "negotiate" for heavily discounted rates.
Insurance ought to be a way to cover the real costs of an illness or injury, not a way to get discounted care on the backs of those who do not have such privilege. The uninsured ought to be responsible for their actual costs, not four to 10 times the real bill.
If one's house burns down, the homeowner's insurance will cover the cost to rebuild and furnish the house. Otherwise, the homeowner will have to pay the price himself — but not four to 10 times the cost to rebuild the house. If one's car is totaled, collision insurance will pay the Blue Book value of the car Otherwise, without the coverage, the owner will have to pay the cost of a replacement car — but not four to 10 times the cost of a new car. No one is asking the hapless victim to cover the cost of five or 10 others who have had a similar calamity.
No uninsured person should be asked to pay more than the cost of his care. What kind of system is that? It is reasoning that sounds like mafia talk. "You pay protection money (health insurance), or you will face severe consequences." The real irony is that many of the uninsured, when faced with such huge bills, throw up their hands, apply for "charity care" and then pay absolutely nothing. Taxpayers bear the brunt, and hospitals close.
All we ask for is some honesty and transparency.
Alieta Eck, M.D.