Why 6 Liters of Salt Water is $546

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The cost of health care in the US is four times what it is in other countries that have universal health care polices. In the US hospitals the cost are often buried in red tape and layers of bureaucracy. As an example of items that jack up the hospital bill for a stay in an American hospital take something as simple and life saving as a liter bag of normal saline, salt water.

How to Charge $546 for Six Liters of Saltwater

by Nina Bernstein, New York Times

It is one of the most common components of emergency medicine: an intravenous bag of sterile saltwater.

Luckily for anyone who has ever needed an IV bag to replenish lost fluids or to receive medication, it is also one of the least expensive. The average manufacturer’s price, according to government data, has fluctuated in recent years from 44 cents to $1.

Yet there is nothing either cheap or simple about its ultimate cost, as I learned when I tried to trace the commercial path of IV bags from the factory to the veins of more than 100 patients struck by a May 2012 outbreak of food poisoning in upstate New York.

Some of the patients’ bills would later include markups of 100 to 200 times the manufacturer’s price, not counting separate charges for “IV administration.” And on other bills, a bundled charge for “IV therapy” was almost 1,000 times the official cost of the solution.

Salt in the wound, the cost of healthcare

Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC’s All In

Just keep all of this in mind when people talk about Obamacare implementation and scream about Socialism and a government takeover. We are trying to move-slowly, incrementally-toward a system that’s sane. But as long as the price in the American health care system is $546.00 for six of these, the system is still broken.

And you know the reason they can’t just charge those kinds of exorbitant rates in places like Belgium? The government simply prohibits it.

As Obamacare implementation rolls out, it won’t take long for it become clear that the problem isn’t that it’s a government takeover of healthcare.

It’s that it’s not enough of one.

1 comment

  1. TMC

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