(NaturalNews) Why does the same treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease cost $99,690 at one hospital and $7,044 at another hospital just 30 miles away? For decades, hospitals have kept their price lists secret. These price lists, also known as "charge masters," are no longer secret; they were released last year by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Robert Laszewski, a former health insurance company executive, wrote to The Huffington Post, "The charge masters are totally irrational." At one time, hospitals based prices on healthcare costs and their need for profit that would allow them to invest in upgrades for their facilities. Now, those prices are simply distorted and have no justification to them.
Numerous operations are unnecessary
In a piece titled "50 Secrets Your Surgeon Won't Tell You," Marty Makary, MD, told Reader's Digest that nearly 25% of operations are unnecessary, but administrators tell doctors to do more. Hospitals push doctors to perform more procedures to generate more money, and it even happens in some of America's top hospitals.
A healthcare expert at Harvard business School, Robert Huckman, said that, when a hospital doesn't make as much money as it wants from one source, it looks to make up the difference through over avenues. One way they can make up that difference is through the uninsured, who almost always pay the full price of a service.
Your doctor may have a financial relationship with vendors
Makary also shared that some orthopedic surgeons have agreements with device manufacturers. Some surgeons make millions with these agreements and perform a record number of implants for that company. According to Dr. James Rickert, if your doctor has a financial relationship with a vendor, you'll likely get a device from that vendor even if it's more costly or less suitable for you.
You may not need that MRI
MRI machines are expensive, and you may be paying the cost. According to James Rickert, MD, "Some doctors hire practice management consultants to help capture more revenue." Consultants typically want orthopedic surgeons to get an in-office MRI machine; this makes doctors financially conflicted. Putting in an MRI machine means they'll order more MRIs, so they won't lose money on it.
According to an article by TIME, the use of CT scans and MRIs have rampantly increased in the last 15 years. Dr. Rebecca Smith-Bindman, a professor of radiology and biomedical imaging at the University of California, San Francisco, and her colleagues reported that the use of CT scans tripled between 1996 and 2010. Dr. Smith-Bindman and her colleagues also reported that MRIs have increased from 17 scans per 1,000 patients to 65 scans per 1,000 patients. Some experts are concerned about the increased radiation exposure for patients.
Our doctors aren't perfect
As Peter Provonost, MD, PhD, put it, "Doctors, especially Johns Hopkins doctors, didn't make mistakes. If you did, you suffered your shame silently." One day, while working a 36-hour shift at Johns Hopkins Hospital, hungry and sleep-deprived, Dr. Provonost says he could have caused permanent brain damage. He says incidents of that nature could be prevented if hospitals had standardized checklists for common procedures. He makes a good point, because airline pilots and NASCAR teams have them, but doctors don't. Dr. Provonost thinks this is "partly because it's so important for us to believe in the myth that doctors are perfect."
Click here for more on this topic written by the author, Jeanette Padilla.