Continued From Last Post
Cancer Can Be Cured and Is Cured.
Our Health CareAmericans Pay 50 Percent More than Other Countries for Identical Drugs
As a result of laws and regulations preventing the US government from
reining in drug prices like other nations do, drugs are wildly overpriced in
the US. Overall, Americans pay 50 percent more than other countries for
identical drugs. This year alone, the US will spend more than $280 billion on
prescription drugs. If Americans paid the same prices other countries pay for
the same products, we’d save about $94 billion a year! The explanation given
by the pharmaceutical industry when confronted about this price difference is
“US profits subsidize the research and development of trailblazing
drugs that are developed in the US and then marketed around the world.”
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But, as Brill states, should a country with a health-care-spending crisis
really subsidize the rest of the developed world? Who made that decision?
Furthermore, the numbers tell us Americans really do not need to pay such
inflated prices in order to guarantee continued drug research and
“According to securities filings of major drug companies, their R&D
expenses are generally 15% to 20% of gross revenue... Neither 5% nor 20% is
enough to have cut deeply into the pharmaceutical companies’ stellar bottom-
line net profits. This is not gross profit, which counts only the cost of
producing the drug, but the profit after those R&D expenses are taken into
account... All the numbers tell one consistent story: Regulating drug prices
the way other countries do would save tens of billions of dollars while still
offering profit margins that would keep encouraging the pharmaceutical
companies’ quest for the next great drug.”
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A New Cottage Industry: Medical-Billing AdvocatesA small grassroots-type industry has emerged as a result of shell-shocked
patients reaching out for help to understand their medical bills. Referring
to themselves as medical-billing advocates, they help you not only read and
understand the content of your bills, but also negotiate with the hospital to
reduce the charges. Brill quotes Katalin Goencz, a former appeals coordinator
in a hospital billing department who now runs her own medical-billing
advocacy business from her home in Stamford:
“The hospitals all know the bills are fiction, or at least only a
place to start the discussion, so you bargain with them.”
The problem with that, of course, is: what about the people who don’t
realize they CAN bargain with a major hospital? And should we really accept
“bills of fiction” to begin with? Brill writes:
“Goencz is part of a trade group called the Alliance of Claim
Assistant Professionals, which has about 40 members across the country.
Another group, Medical Billing Advocates of America, has about 50 members.
Each advocate seems to handle 40 to 70 cases a year for the uninsured and
those disputing insurance claims. That would be about 5,000 patients a year
out of what must be tens of millions of Americans facing these issues – which
may help explain why 60% of the personal bankruptcy filings each year are
related to medical bills.”
Even with the help of a medical-billing advocate (who of course charges a
fee for the service), many uninsured patients still overpay. After all,
getting a 50 percent discount on a test billed at $200, which should cost $15
is not necessarily a great bargain, although it’s certainly an improvement if
we only take fictional numbers into account. The sad thing is, as mentioned
earlier, the overcharges are SO grossly inflated that even if you get the
bill cut in half, the hospital still makes out like a bandit!
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