Hammering Those Without Insurance

The numbers in this cartoon are not exaggerated. Dr. Stuart’s recent column here inspired me.

Hospitals and clinics charge high prices for services. Medicare or insurance knock that down to a tiny fraction. Yet, the patient without insurance gets hammered the most.

Also, if the particular medical center does not take your insurance, you are going to pay the insane high price tag.

When people complain about such a discrepancy, the “10% cash discount” argument is the answer. How do they even keep a straight face when they say that?

Example: At a tertiary medical center, our daughter always got a scoliosis spine xray. The bill would come to our home for $1100.00. The bill would also go to our insurance, which would pay $60. We would pay $20 as our copay. ….And the bill was considered settled.


How does a $1100 bill turn into $80? How does this make sense?

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Steven Mussey MD

Steven Mussey, M.D. is a physician in Internal Medicine, practicing in the Fredericksburg area for more than twenty years. He grew up in Springfield, Virginia and earned a degree in Physics from The University of Virginia, Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his medical degree at The George Washington University and was inducted into the medical honor society AOA. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine. He served in the Air Force for four years before entering into private practice. He particularly enjoys geriatric medical care and working with complex patients. For almost a quarter century, he has been practicing with one other Internist. Both doctors enjoy practice in a small, but busy office, and plan on working into their 70s, as long as they can still find their way to the office. Dr. Mussey is also an avid cartoonist and has a weekly cartoon in the local newspaper. He also enjoys cartoon animation and has had several public service cartoons playing regularly on the television cable systems. 

  3 comments for “Hammering Those Without Insurance

  1. May 31, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    So what is the “real” price for the x-ray? Certainly not Medicare’s administratively set prices.The problem is not that “The health care industry has become an unethical profit-driven corporate wasteland” as Dr. Stuart writes in the piece linked to above. The problem is the lack of a functioning market for prices in healthcare. The solution is to get back to market prices.

  2. May 31, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    In many cases, cash prices are much lower. Ask around. See http://www.jpands.org/vol23no2/pinder.pdf

  3. JRDO
    May 31, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    I makes cents for the hospitals, not for the consumers.

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