This N&O article discusses exorbitant and inconsistent prices for drugs charged by North Carolina hospitals. What caught my eye, however, was one passage that highlights just how delusional the N&O editors are when it comes to understanding the medical care and health insurance industries in the U.S.
Insurance companies negotiate some prices down, as they do for all hospital services. But the charges reflect the custom, in the American capitalistic health care system, of hospital cost-shifting – charging more for drugs or a particular service, far more than the actual cost with a profit, in order to cover that patient who has nothing and thus gets free care.
How can they maintain a straight face while calling the U.S. healthcare system “capitalistic”? Do they even recognize the irony of using this label when discussing the practices of two hospitals (Duke and UNC) – neither of which are private, for-profit businesses? Duke is a non-profit organization, enjoying tax privileges and loaded with government mandates for care. And UNC is owned by the state government.
Here’s a short, non-comprehensive list to remind the N&O editors just how far from “capitalistic” the U.S. healthcare system is (and this doesn’t even account for the laws included in Obamacare):
- Less than one in five hospitals are privately owned, for-profit organizations
- The majority of medical care bills are paid by government programs
- In many states, such as North Carolina, hospitals and other medical clinics must obtain permission from the State to expand or open up a new facility
- Health insurance plans are limited to customers within each individual state, and must include coverage mandated by federal and state governments
- The government tax code treats employer sponsored health insurance plans differently than those purchased individually – creating massive distortion in coverage
- The government spends billions of tax dollars subsidizing community health clinics and medical research
And the list goes on and on. Yet somehow N&O editors insist on lying to its readers by characterizing the U.S. healthcare system as “capitalistic.” Pathetic.