American Women pay more to give birth than British Royals – receive worse care

On Tuesday, Elizabeth Rosenthal of the New York Times tweeted out, “British royal born in fanciest ward :$15000. Average US birth: billed $30,000; paid $18,000. What’s wrong here?” Rosenthal has her numbers right — and to answer her question, what’s wrong is that the U.S. system of medical care charges patients on a fee-for-service basis without giving consumers transparent pricing information. Worse yet, Americans don’t even receive particularly high-quality maternal care in exchange for their outsized medical bills.

Rosenthal’s tweet leads to a detailed analysis she did for the New York Times in June. She found that hospitals charge about $30,000 for a vaginal delivery and newborn care, and C-sections cost closer to $50,000. Insurers only pay $18,000 to $28,000 on average for those services — and out-of-pocket costs for women with insurance, which used to be almost nothing, have risen to an average of $3,400 today:

The biggest reason for this disparity is the American medical culture, in which doctors have a perverse incentive to perform as many procedures as possible since they can bill for each test and treatment. Patients don’t know the size of the bill they’re in for until they get it because the cost of U.S. health care is largely opaque. So it’s not surprising that many doctors perform unnecessary procedures on pregnant women.

For instance, the American Academy of Family physicians released a list of 90 most common unnecessary procedures that includes expensive C-section deliveries for healthy women before 39 weeks of pregnancy. Consumer groups point out that the rates of these C-sections have skyrocketed without many discernible health benefits, as have ultrasounds after 24 weeks of pregnancy, and early epidurals…

But for all the money that Americans spend on maternity care, newborns in the United States still die at a higher rate than babies in other industrialized nations. In fact, Save the Children found that 11,300 U.S. babies die on their first day of life, which is a 50 percent higher first-day mortality rate than all other industrialized countries included in its study combined.

Many American mothers also don’t receive services that are commonplace in countries like England, such as simple lessons in child-rearing and breast-feeding for first-time moms. The separation of physical and mental health benefits in American insurance — which persist despite a 2008 law mandating parity between the two types of care — also presents a barrier for mothers who suffer from serious conditions like postpartum depression. Americans may be paying more than royalty prices for their health care — but the care they’re getting is often less than commonplace.

By the way, folks – please don’t think this disparity only applies to obstetrics. I’ve been listening to American politicians whine about universal healthcare, single payer systems of health insurance, since before most of you were born. Democrats co-opted many of the planks of the Progressive Party in 1948 towards two ends: to defeat the Republican Party and to prevent the emergence of a post-WW2 third party movement in the United States. They succeeded at both.

And just about every plank they parroted, they ignored after the election. Universal healthcare wasn’t even introduced in Congress. The continuation of a wartime economy right into the Korean War meant reduced unemployment. Couple that with the Cold War, the Red Scare and McCarthyism – and any attempts at electoral politics on a national scale independent of the two-party miasma ended.

We got to watch healthcare become a widely available, expensive commodity.

Thanks, Helen

Credit Bureau incompetents must pay $18.6 million after failing for two years to correct woman’s credit rating

A jury Friday awarded an Oregon woman $18.6 million after she spent two years unsuccessfully trying to get Equifax Information Services to fix major mistakes on her credit report…

Julie Miller of Marion County, who was awarded $18.4 million in punitive and $180,000 in compensatory damages, contacted Equifax eight times between 2009 and 2011 in an effort to correct inaccuracies, including erroneous accounts and collection attempts, as well as a wrong Social Security number and birthday. Yet over and over, the lawsuit alleged, the Atlanta-based company failed to correct its mistakes.

“There was damage to her reputation, a breach of her privacy and the lost opportunity to seek credit,” said Justin Baxter, the Portland attorney who teamed on the case with his father and law partner, Michael Baxter. “She has a brother who is disabled and who can’t get credit on his own and she wasn’t able to help him…”

A Federal Trade Commission study earlier this year of 1,001 consumers who reviewed 2,968 of their credit reports found 21 percent contained errors. The survey, which is required as part of a 2003 law, found that 5 percent of the errors represented issues that would lead consumers to be denied credit…

Miller first discovered a problem when she was denied credit by a bank in early December 2009. She alerted Equifax and filled out multiple forms faxed by the credit agency seeking updated information…

The issue wasn’t a result of identify theft, Baxter said. Instead, the information from another “Julie Miller” had simply been placed in the plaintiff’s record by mistake. In at least one case, the lawsuit alleged, the plaintiff’s private financial information was sent to companies inquiring about the other Julie Miller.

Credit bureaus are probably the least competent class of firm that gets to dither with your financial life. The average Mafia loan shark does a better job of record keeping.

Though both are roughly comparable when it comes to screwing over your life.

Congressional Republicans oppose right-wing nutballs blocking government funding to stop ObamaCare

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said Friday attempts by congressional Republicans to defund the Affordable Care Act are “dishonest” and cannot succeed.

In an interview with the conservative Washington Examiner newspaper, Coburn criticized fellow Republicans who signed a pledge not to vote for a continuing resolution to provide routine funding for government operations unless funding for the healthcare reform law, commonly known as Obamacare, are stripped from it…

Coburn, a physician and a consistent opponent of the Affordable Care Act, said he opposed the Republican gambit because the votes aren’t there for it to be successful.

“You’re going to set an expectation among the conservatives in our party that we can achieve something that we’re not able to achieve,” he said. “It’s not an achievable strategy. It’s creating the false impression that you can do something when you can’t. And it’s dishonest.”

Coburn said the strategy “is a good way for Republicans to lose the House…”

Coburn’s comments came as Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said the idea of shutting down the U.S. government to block healthcare reform implementation is “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.”

Support is building among congressional Republicans for using a continuing resolution as leverage to block implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is among the loudest voices supporting the stand…

Burr said Thursday stopping the funding in not achievable and argued Republicans risk taking the blame if the government is shut down over the issue.

I think it’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard,” said Burr. “As long as Barack Obama is president, the Affordable Care Act is going to be law. Defunding the Affordable Care Act is not achievable through shutting down the federal government.”

Not that DUMB stops Republicans very often. It will be a chuckle to see who prevails between traditional conservatives dedicated to making money for insurance companies and the medical-industrial complex – versus the nutball brigade rolling around with all four feet in the air like a hound in cowshit. Only the crap is Tea Party ideology instead of something potentially useful.