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A relatively uncomplicated treatment of pneumonia can range from $8,092 to $19,141 at our local hospitals. Of course, the hospital “experts” will quickly remind us that there are no uncomplicated procedures and that each case, each diagnosis and each treatment is unique. Still, hearing that treatment for heart failure can vary from $9,754 to (yikes!) $35,723 is, at least, enlightening.
Granted, it may be difficult to find many “apples to apples” price/procedure comparisons in the report, which was released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Heck, if they can’t figure this stuff out, the average price-conscious health care consumer certainly cannot. Therein lies the difficulty with health care reform: widespread, entrenched and purposeful obfuscation of price/procedure information to protect the fee-for-service model.
“It’s important to remember that what a hospital ‘charges’ rarely reflects what it is paid by government or private insurers,” Allina Health officials said in a statement. What other industry or business could (or would) make a comment like that? It is important to remember only to the extent that this report results in greater fundamental information transparency, a watershed event.
Rick Ducharme, Hopkins
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AMERICA AND OIL
Free enterprise system: Bigger than the Beatles!
A May 7 letter (“Oil: North Dakota field is good for humanity”) stated that “nothing in history, ever, has done more to improve the human condition around the world than the American free-enterprise system.”
After reading that, I pictured Jesus thinking, “Dang! So close!”
Dave Rosene, Brooklyn Park
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.