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Another sad tale of extreme profiteering in U.S. healthcare?

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This is the sort of story that reminds Americans of just how profit-driven U.S. healthcare is and why it’s by far the most expensive in the world (but with mediocre outcomes compared to most Developed Nations). A  recent New York Times article begins:

“Early last year, executives at a small hospital an hour north of Spokane, Wash., started using a company called EmCare to staff and run their emergency room. The hospital had been struggling to find doctors to work in its E.R., and turning to EmCare  {part of publicly traded Envision Healthcare} was something hundreds of other hospitals across the country had done.

“That’s when the trouble began.

“Before EmCare, about 6 percent of patient visits in the hospital’s emergency room were billed for the most complex, expensive level of care. After EmCare arrived, nearly 28 percent got the highest-level billing code.

“On top of that, the hospital, Newport Hospital and Health Services, was getting calls from confused patients who had received surprisingly large bills from the emergency room doctors. Although the hospital had negotiated rates for its fees with many major health insurers, the EmCare physicians were not part of those networks and were sending high bills directly to the patients. For a patient needing care with the highest-level billing code, the hospital’s previous physicians had been charging $467; EmCare’s charged $1,649.”

To read The Time’s article, please hit this link.

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