If you’ve ever spent time in an Emergency Room, Emergency Department or have been admitted into a hospital – you’ve probably heard of something called a charge master. Every time I hear charge masters mentioned, I think of that South Park episodes where they made fun of Mormon history. There is neither rhyme nor reason as to what hospitals charge. I think they have several of those 32-sided dice which they roll and then multiply by a magic number. It’s ludicrous.
If you didn’t notice last week, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid released the amounts hospitals across the nation charge for the 100 most common treatments and procedures. I’m not sure which is more shocking – the disparity between prices charged by hospitals or the almost impossible task of actually figuring out what those charges are. This is one of several major issues with the American health care system that is more concerned with making money than treating and healing the sick or promoting wellness. If only medical emergencies were such that you could decide what is wrong with you, find the most cost effective hospital and then seek treatment. Many Americans shudder at the thought of everyone moving to Medicare/Medicaid, but at least then everyone would be charged the same, regulated price.