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"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.


Why is this legal?

In the current New York mag, there is an article called "The young and uninsured." Apparently one in 4 New Yorkers is uninsured. One story is pretty frightening - a young woman went to a clinic with a cough that wouldn't remit - and they found she had TB. She had been walking all around NYC, riding the subway, etc., all the while possibly infecting others. The NYT highlighted this issue of uninsured immigrants a while ago - they are often terrified of going to hospitals (particularly those who are not here legally) or cannot afford to, and may contract communicable diseases and pass those on.

One of the most horrifying things it highlights (and that I have blogged about before, and that I feel gets little to no attention) is that if you have no insurance, you will be charged more for services than would an insurance company. So, for example, they described a case in which a guy had to have an emergency appendectomy that in the end cost him over $30,000(!). This, the article noted, is significantly more than what an insurance company would be charged:

They came separately, over the course of a week. The most damaging expenses were for his overnight stays: $16,608.76 for his first, $16,223.61 for the second. Then came the surgeon’s bill ($1,665.50), the anesthesiologist’s ($1,014), the two ER physicians ($605), the blood clinic ($551), and the post-op clinic ($592.04). A staggering $37,259.91 in total, a sum far higher than the prenegotiated rates the hospital would have charged an insurer. “That’s one of the unfortunate ironies,” says Cunningham. “The same people who don’t have insurance because they can’t afford it are charged much higher rates than someone with insurance.”
I don't hink it's ironic - I think it is criminal. Why are rates different patient by patient? I have run into this in trying to find a shrink. Over and over shrinks tell me they have no reduced fee slots, or may say, "My full fee is $140, and my reduced fee is $125." Yet, I well know that it is possible that they are unlikely to get much more than half that from insurance companies. So why is it legal to charge me more?


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