No transparency in healthcare.

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"Price is what you pay. Value is what you get." - Warren Buffett

Wednesday. It turns out you can’t even get a table at your favorite restaurant anymore. Hot restaurant reservations are starting to get snagged up by bots the second they become available. From there, the people operating these bots look to turn a profit on reservation resale websites. I guess that’s just another reason to eat dinner at home—your wallet and waistline will thank you. Speaking of saving your wallet, why is price transparency such a big problem in our healthcare system? Let’s dive in. 

Cost Of Living Cancer GIF

Sneaky, Sneaky Healthcare Prices 

Healthcare is a subject close to all our hearts—quite literally. If you live in the United States, you’re no stranger to the soaring costs of medical care. As of last year, our country spent an astonishing $4.3 trillion on healthcare. That’s about $12,900 for every man, woman, and child. 

You might think, “Wow, we must be getting top-notch services for that kind of money,” but sadly, that’s not the case. We’re spending more but not necessarily getting better health outcomes than other wealthy countries. It’s the complete opposite of a win-win. Our healthcare system is a big lose-lose. 

So why are healthcare costs so high? First, let’s look at who is using healthcare. We have a growing number of older folks in America. In the last decade, the share of people over 65 has increased from 13% to 16%. By 2030, it’s expected to hit 20%. Older people usually need more medical care, and as more of them sign up for Medicare, the cost of this program will shoot up. Experts are saying that Medicare spending could almost double over the next 30 years!

Now, what about the cost of the healthcare services themselves? Medical care is getting more expensive faster than other things we pay for. In the last 20 years, general prices have gone up about 2.5% each year, but medical costs have jumped by 3.2% each year. 

Some of this is because of new technology, which is great but also expensive. Another reason is our complicated healthcare system, which leads to lots of wasted money. Last but not least, when hospitals get too big and powerful, they can charge higher prices without worrying about competitors. Frustrating—I know. 

And that is not even the most frustrating part. The lack of price transparency is another big problem that plagues our healthcare system. Say you wanted to find out how much a medical procedure will cost you. How would you go about doing that? You would think finding those prices would be pretty straightforward, but a new study has shown that it’s not

Researchers had people pretend to be patients and call hospitals to ask for prices of vaginal childbirth and brain MRIs. They also checked these prices online. And guess what? The prices were all over the place! Sometimes, the price given over the phone was 50% more than the price listed online. Even in the same city, the cost of the same procedure could vary from one hospital to another by up to 100%.

This mess has caught the attention of authorities. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) had laid down rules requiring hospitals to make their pricing information easy to find online. However, the study shows this isn’t working well. CMS has even started fining hospitals for not following these rules. New guidelines are in the works to make this system better by 2024. 

Will things get better, though? I wouldn’t hold my breath. 

The key takeaway? Mark Cuban, who was part of the study, summed it up well when he said, “Transparency is critical to changing the trajectory of healthcare costs in this country.” 

Yes, some progress has been made, but we still have a long way to go. So, while the big guys work on sorting this out, it might be wise for us regular folks to double-check and ask around before choosing a hospital for a procedure. Because in today’s world, understanding the healthcare system is almost as important as staying healthy.

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Tonic Shots

1. Chicken Thighs… and Make Them Crispy!

Add some protein and flavor to your week to fuel your body and feel your best. Enjoy.

2. Coconut and Banana? Yes, Please!

This smoothie is an all-time favorite. Add some protein to make it the perfect post-workout treat.

3. Chicken and Corn Chowder For The Win.

Who doesn’t love a good chowder? The protein from the chicken and the fiber from the corn make this a great option to fuel your body and feel fuller longer. Enjoy!

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