Former hospital president blows whistle on predatory U.S. healthcare pricing
Florida attorney Steven I. Weissman agreed to become interim president of a Miami hospital when its founder, a friend and client of 35 years, died. He quickly got an insider’s view of the healthcare system and found it sickening. Risking long-standing relationships, he has gone public.
Predatory pricing is the reason that the USA is suffering from health cost misery. The healthcare industry has entirely eliminated real prices for hospitals, physicians and labs.
Ask the price of anything and the answer is always the same: What insurance do you have? Patients are blocked from shopping for fair value. The part of the Affordable Care Act which was supposed to control insurance costs, perversely, incentivizes insurers to pay higher, not lower costs. Under the Affordable Care Act, premiums and profits are legally permitted to rise only as health costs rise. In short, when it comes to pricing, nobody is watching the store and citizens cannot shop to protect themselves from medical price gouging.
This former hospital president says that because billing rates are not set, the health industry is able to prey on patients at their most vulnerable. And if you are out of network or uninsured, you pay the highest rates. Healthcare pricing has been rigged by the industry that dumps, by far, the most cash into Washington. The industry spends more on lobbying than the defense, aerospace, and the oil and gas industries combined.
Lobbyists built the current system to guarantee that health provider pricing, already outrageous, continues to skyrocket. The widely discussed concept of price transparency will not come close to solving the health cost crisis.
Healthcare is the only product or service sold in the U.S.A. without any real pricing and it is not coincidental that it is the one industry imposing overwhelming financial burdens on citizens.
A simple blood test for cholesterol can range from $10 to $400 or more at the same lab. Hospitalization for chest pain can result in a bill from the same hospital for the same services ranging anywhere from $3,000 to $25,000 or more. Transparency would merely show that each healthcare provider has numerous different prices for each service and continue to sow confusion over the real price. This kind of disclosure will not effectively enable patients to shop and compare pricing.
The solution is for Congress to take action and require healthcare providers to bill all patients, insured and uninsured, the same amount for the same service. Hospitals, physicians and labs should have continued freedom to set their own prices, but predatory pricing — a different rate for each patient — must be prohibited. Patients should not be financially brutalized for being out of network or uninsured.
When rates are set, patients will be able to shop for good healthcare value. Providers will be forced to compete based on price, quality and service. Healthcare costs and insurance premiums will plummet.
Weissman vows to change the system and he is beating the proverbial drums now because there’s a presidential campaign in high gear.
He created a Change.Org Petition (End Predatory Healthcare Pricing) which garnered an astonishing 35,000 signatures in a single 12 hour period this week. It is rapidly helping to galvanize support for the idea that to end skyrocketing health costs, real prices are essential. Thousands of public comments to the Petition reflect that a nationwide dialogue has started among citizens across the U.S.A. The goal is to compel politicians to hear patients over the voices of industry lobbyists. To further pull the curtain open on our corrupt system, We Must Cure What Ails the Healthcare System, is an editorial Steve Weissman published last month in The Miami Herald.
To aid lawyers with clients fighting against unreasonable medical bills, Weissman also published a legal analysis in The Florida Bar Journal titled Remedies for An Epidemic of Medical Provider Price Gouging. The article provides attorneys with new legal tools, fashioned through an insider’s view of the system, to fight billing fraud. In an NBC South Florida special investigation which aired on March 8, 2016, Weissman exposes predatory pricing as the cause of our nation’s healthcare misery and explains that pricing should be fixed – and not more complicated than gas station prices. This is not the first time Weissman is the underdog in a David against Goliath story. He sued the Nasdaq Stock Exchange for investor losses in the infamous WorldCom stock fraud. In 2007, a landmark 7-5 decision was issued by the Court of Appeals in his favor against the stock exchange and it is often cited in legal circles. Maintaining perspective, he says “the Stock Exchange case was just about money; healthcare is life or death.”
Originally posted on prnewschannel.com